Home News & Stories Participatory Design: A Creative, Non-linear And Sometimes Messy Process

Participatory Design: A Creative, Non-linear And Sometimes Messy Process

Melton Fellows participated in an online course on participatory design by MIT D-Lab and developed a groundbreaking idea ...

written by May Garces, Pedro Poblete Lasserre, Neli Blum and Juli Maier

Participatory Design is a creative, abstract, non-linear and sometimes messy process that, when well applied, can lead to sustainable, community based outcomes. This is what we, four Melton Fellows from Chile and Germany, experienced during the six-week online course Introduction to Participatory Design for Development by MIT D-Lab.

The course introduced us to the MIT D-Lab Framework of Participatory Design which consists of six stages, starting with the identification of an opportunity, through the development and refinement of the solution and ending with the transition to implementation. At the beginning of each week we received a workbook with videos, worksheets and an assignment. Mid-week we had an online session, where experts in the field gave insights into case studies. These webinars were also great to reflect about the learnings of this week. By the end of the week we had to deliver our assignment.

We started by searching for opportunities and talked to several people in and outside the Melton Foundation. As part of our research, we found out about a challenge that Javier Becker is facing. He is a Melton Fellow based in Chile and a medical doctor working in a conflict zone in the south of the country where Mapuche people are reclaiming ancestral land that had been taken away from them. His experience showed that doctors working in the region face numerous issues due to limited intercultural awareness. We accepted the challenge and set out to find effective solutions to help medical doctors become more sensitive and confident in dealing with indigenous people as well as migrants. Throughout the course, we put participatory design into practice and came up with a simple prototype of an intercultural App.

Yes, it has been a lot of work! Yes, we sometimes were stressed out when course deadlines were coming closer and we still hadn’t completed our deliverable. However we managed to keep up the motivation within our group! We pushed each other and – together – complete the course and resulted in a simple, yet ground breaking prototype-solution. And because in every ending dwells a new beginning, we look forward to continue working on the challenge, dig deeper into the issue of intercultural sensitivity and medical services, apply our learning, and implement the solution – whichever way or shape it may take.

Stay tuned for more…