Co-design Workshop with Stakeholders of Generation Alpha using Nonhuman Persona and Empathy Map

DURATION 2023.09-2023.12
ROLE Ideation, Research Plan, Data Collection & Analysis
COLLABORATORS DESIS researchers, Prof. Joon Sang Baek


BACKGROUND. There was a lack of research exploring the effectiveness of existing human-centered design tools in fostering co-design participants’ empathy for non-human entities.

RESEARCH PURPOSE. This study aimed to investigate whether the use of personas and empathy mapping for non-human entities, such as animals, plants, and nature, in the design process can help participants develop empathy for non-human entities and lead to the development of sustainable and responsible solutions.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS. Do personas and empathy mapping evoke stakeholders’ empathy for non-humans? How do stakeholders using personas and empathy mapping generate solutions for improving technology for engagement with nature for children?

RESEARCH APPROACH. Thematic analysis of product improvement ideas suggested by participants in the online focus group interview (3 environmental educators, 3 elementary school teachers) and the offline co-design workshop (4 children aged 11, 4 parents, 2 environmental educators, 2 elementary school teachers)

KEY INSIGHT. Non-human personas and empathy maps provided participants with opportunities to empathize with nature and helped them learn concrete ways to empathize through the tools. The tools also helped participants consider product use and responsible solutions from both user and non-human perspectives.

IMPACT. This research provides a case exploring the potential of using personas and empathy mapping in participatory design with non-humans. It also informs designers in the sustainability field that these tools can provide an opportunity to consider empathy and interaction with non-humans and can be used as a tool to gain diverse insights. The results of this workshop were presented at the KSDS Conference hosted by the Korean Society of Design Science.

LESSONS LEARNED. Stakeholder workshops require extra design tools and strategies to engage participants with diverse backgrounds and goals. Workshop attendance must also be confirmed before kickoff. The facilitator’s roles within the workshop dynamics should be clearly designed in advance.

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