Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Governance, Participation and Social Design

Governance, Participation and Social Design
First semester
Main language of instruction: English

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are available by appointment through email.


How can designers collaborate with stakeholders to create better communities? What processes lead to place-making that is at once healthy, flexible, resilient, regenerative, beautiful, fun, and engaging? As a workshop team we’ll pursue these questions, engage in cooperative and regenerative design principles, explore relevant project case studies, focus on optimized project processes, while we respond to a specific, timely, and real-world request for design services.


Through discussions, presentations, teamwork, research, and project-specific practice we will grow to have a deeper understanding of:

1. How design teams may best engage with community members to collaborate on resilient +/or post-disaster ‘acupuncture‘ projects.

2. The roles of diverse client(s), cultures, environments, and sites as foundational assets and springboards for appropriate design responses.

3. Engaging in a real-world project stream focused on design/build-for-change results through the application of workshop methodologies and materials.

4. The widening range of opportunities, resources, challenges and pitfalls related to humanitarian design/build projects and participatory/community design processes.


  • 02 - That students may be capble of integrating knowledge and face the complexity of formulating their opinion from information which may be incomplete or limited, and that include reflections on the ethic and social responsibilities related to the area of cooperation and arquitecture in post disaster situations.
  • 03 - That students may capable of communicating the conslusions of their research as well as the knowledge and resasons that support it, to a specialized and non-specialized public, with clarity and security.
  • 04 - That students may acquire the learning capacities in order to continue studying in an individual and selfmanaged way in the field of international cooperation.
  • 06 - Aquire a specialized knowledge in the management of materials and human resources for each project development
  • 07 - Be capable of aplying to a specific project the knowledge acquired.
  • 10 - Be capable of developing a critical analysis through the selection of global urban developmpent criteria and relate them to local administrative models.
  • 12 - Be capable of developing a theoretical framework regarding all the main points of a planning process, from the territorial to the intermediate scale.
  • 15 - To know how to extract global identity factors aplicable to local territorial situations
  • 16 - To know how to apply the knowledge acquired of international socio-economic analysis to systems of local economies.
  • 23 - To be albe to elaborate a critical analysis of development projects at all scales implemented by international cooperation agencies and local entities.
  • 24 - To know how to manage projects of different scales with the objective of prioritizing individual interventions in multidisciplinary tasks
  • 28 - To learn how to develop research in the academic and profesional context of the Master and to be able to comunicate the results to a specialized jury

Learning outcomes

1. Arriving at a nuanced understanding of how and when to appropriately work with diverse communities in challenging circumstances

2. Enhancing assessment and practical capabilities relative to real-world humanitarian design project scenario(s)

3. Deepening knowledge of culturally and environmentally-appropriate design process

4. Increased ability and real-world experience stemming from the workshop collaboration

5. Increasing understanding of built examples and useful methodologies to amplify participants’ capacities in future design collaborations.


A. Design Challenge: A charrette running throughout the workshop to engage students in a design process in  the context of one or more Real-World Design Challenge(s)* Note: TBA in Workshop Brief Package(s)

B. Talks: Presentation of case studies and empirical narratives focused on approach, interaction and practice methodologies relating to diverse ‘client’ communities and their challenges.

C. Roundtable Discussions: Group analysis (with Q + A) at periodic intensives focused on community engagement, team work, community interface, local capacity and materials/systems amplification

D. Student Presentations: Pin-up Review + discussion of student design approaches to the Real-World Design Challenge workshop brief(s).

Teaching and learning activities

In person

Group work, case study analysis and group presentations.

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

Per UIC grading guidelines with emphasis on attendance, quality of participation and graphic and verbal communication.

Bibliography and resources

Basic bibliography listed below, class material will be provided prior.

1. [Oral Histories, Community Input, Deep Listening (unwritten); Whatever the community stakeholders say out loud is a, perhaps the, primary resource]

2. Humanitarian Architecture: 15 Stories of Architects Working after Disaster, Esther Charlesworth, Routledge, 2014, pages viii-15, 214-228.

3. Places to Intervene in a System, Donella H. Meadows, Whole Earth, Winter 1997, pages 1-12.

4. Design Like You Give a Damn [2]: Building Change from the Ground Up, Architecture for Humanity, Abrams, New York, 2012, Lessons Learned...pages 11-46.

5. New Architecture on Indigenous Lands, Joy Malnar & Frank Vodvarka, University of Minnesota Press, 2013, pages 42-59, 179-202

6. Do It Yourself Architecture, BOUNDARIES International Architecture Magazine, Luca Sampo Editor, Issue No. 9, July-September 2013, pages32-39.

7. Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets, John P. Kretzmann and John J. McKnight, Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research, 1993, An Introduction to Asset-Based Community Development, pages 1-11.

8. Sustainable Native Community Collaborative, exemplary housing case studies resources (pdf files) and short films (vimeo), online at: http://www.sustainablenativecommunities.org/fieldnews/2013-case-studies/