Luke Zimmerman MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2016
Aspirational Community: Designing civic conversation to cultivate human connection.
Since the 1960’s there has been a well documented decline in civic engagement in the US and a general decline in norms of kindness, good will and the perception of trustworthiness, which is social capital. This has been expressed socially as an increase in polarization and a decrease in voting, civic engagement and general volunteerism. These declines are leading to greater isolation of in-groups, the shrinking of communities’ circles of trust and a decrease in the quality of human connection.
How can we respond?
I propose we invest in our conversations by designing civic discourse with the cultivation of social capital in mind. My thesis proposes a prototype to frame and initiate a responsive, iterative process by which we can begin cooperatively designing conversations with foresight and a thoughtful use of technology in mind. Conversation structures, facilitation techniques, research and design processes are all directed to one end: to cultivate the quality of human connection for the purpose of stronger communities with thriving civic engagement.