Ten Ethical Questions for Social Designers

George Aye, Founder of Greater Good Studio, was the keynote speaker at our Social R&D National Gathering in March. He spoke about the need, as designers, to be conscious of the impact of our actions. While social innovation and design can foster healing, it can very well harm the communities we mean to serve.

“Human-centered design is not inherently good,” said George. We need deliberate interventions to ensure that design serves society.

He shared ten ethical questions to guide ourselves, as designers in the social sector:

  1. What is my relationship to power and privilege
  2. Which humans are centered when we say Human-Centered Design
  3. How can I say no to work when I need to pay off my ______?
  4. What’s so common today that we’ll look back on and see was obviously a problem?
  5. Why are some people more likely to get served by design but not others?
  6. How do we wean design’s addiction from Whiteness?
  7. Why are designers helping people in another country before helping someone just one neighborhood over?
  8. How did philanthropy become such a dominant voice in social change?
  9. What’s the cost of speaking up? What’s the cost of not?
  10. What right do I have to do this work?


We will be uploading a video of George’s keynote soon — stay tuned!

If you’re interested in reading more about the design process behind our National Gathering, you can read our pre-event and post-event check-ins with our Design Team.

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