A computer and a cop of coffee


Design research with community and activist organizations is messy and often doesn't fit well within standard models of engaged scholarship or practice. In this talk I explore "accompaniment" as a concept for characterizing the work of researching alongside community and activist organizations.

Written April 8, 2024 by The Communication department

The concept of "accompaniment" draws from social work and theology traditions as a form of political praxis emphasizing commitment and closeness. It challenges the idea of the researcher (or designer) as independent from those they work with and, instead, places the researcher (or designer) as entangled within those communities. Doing so alters the experience and affects the research.

I'll begin the talk with a discussion of various modes of engagement in design research, including participatory design, then discuss "accompaniment" in other fields of social research, and move on to consider how "accompaniment" challenges the status quo of design research. This talk may raise more questions than it answers. 
Short bio

Carl DiSalvo is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research explores the political qualities and potentials of design, often through participatory methods, working in collaboration with communities and organizations. He is a co-editor of the journal Design Issues, and the author of Adversarial Design (MIT Press 2012) and Design as Democratic Inquiry (MIT Press 2022).