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Title: Developing methods of resilience for design practice
Author: O'Neill de Mater, Maria
Awarding Body: Northumbria University
Current Institution: Northumbria University
Date of Award: 2013
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It was noted by the researcher that living and working in Puerto Rico, in what are politically and socio-economically difficult and sometimes threatening conditions, at the time of this programme of research, there was something to be learnt from those designers who exhibited resilience to stressful events. Therefore, the specific purpose of this practice-led programme of research was to understand designers’ decision-making processes when under political and socio-economic stressors and question how they can make strategically successful decisions that enable them to thrive. The first objective was to identify and define resilient strategic thinking. To do this, the researcher reflected upon her own thinking and practices as an art director and design educator suffering the adversities of political and socio-economic disintegration in her own context. This self-reflective process revealed her use of a number of coping tools, which became the set of Real-Time Response Planning (RTRP) tools for managing adversity. The second tool’s objective was to explore the possibility of teaching strategic application of the RTRP tools to other designers who were also experiencing their own stressors. In review of designers’ engagement with these tools, the third objective was to develop an effective graphic articulation of the RTRP toolbox. This enabled the fourth objective, which was to measure the effectiveness of the RTRP toolbox in guiding designers towards radical resilience, towards bouncing forward as a more adaptive response to adverse conditions. The research was begun using the Reflective Practice and Action Research approach; however, critical review of its appropriateness within this social-political context of design practice moved the researcher to apply the Systematization of Experience method. A Systematization workshop was conducted applying Participatory Action Research and Participatory Design to the creation of the RTRP toolbox paper prototype, as a vehicle for observing the application of the RTRP tools during design practices. This programme of research found that the RTRP tools were able to positively support thriving and resilience as defined by the Resilience Theory. The toolbox successfully supported the teaching of resilience behaviours at a personal and local level, enabling the development of positive coping strategies in real-time, and informed the planning of longer-term strategies for similar adversities in the future. The current global economic crisis has left many designers with insecure futures, yet there is an expectation that they will carry on efficiently to maintain their livelihoods and lifestyles in the face of daily adversity. These RTRP tools offer designers a means of managing these experiences and help them see oportunities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: W200 Design studies