Ethics Workshop – Studio Day

Today we discussed and carried out tasks that would enable me to reflect on the meaning of ethics and the importance of it in my own practice.

What is Ethics?

Our class discussion began by defining the term ethics and what it means across an array of different cultures and how it translates. It was highlighted by a Chinese student that there isn’t exactly a direct translation but it means human relationship. In a broad sense I believe this to be true but I do have my own idea of what I believe ethics is…

“Ethics is a way to ensure you understand the fundamentals of decent human behaviour and conduct. It encompasses universal values for the well-being of humans, animals & the environment like equality, human rights, laws and health & safety” (King, S. 2018).

Ethical Approaches

There are numerous different frameworks that exist but one of the most popular is one proposed by Beauchamp and Childress (2001).

  • Respect for autonomy: respecting the decision making capacities of autonomous persons enabling individuals to make informed choices
  • Beneficence: balancing of treatment against risks – should act in a way that benefits the person
  • Non-maleficence: avoiding causing harm: if some harm this should not be disproportionate to benefits of trust
  • Justice: distribution of fair share of benefits, legal justice, doing what the law says, rights based justice

 Value of Ethics

Often I have found myself feeling as though ethics is a barrier preventing me from conducting investigations. “Research Ethics: Checklist for Approval” blog post I discussed barrier that I had encountered, and how I over come it. The following task will help me to considered the different approaches you take when carry out primary research and the support available as a design researcher. The aim of the following tasks is to invite us to think in detail about every stage of the research and provide insights, challenges and opportunities that will not only help the participant but also yourself.

Discussing in our group the task and where to begin.

In a group of four we began discussing the tasks and how it applys to our own work. We only had an hour to complete this task, so unfortunately we were unable to complete all four exercises. Never the less we did try to discuss the majority. I think the biggest takeaway for me was the vocabulary section on ‘moral contract.’

01. Design Noir

We began by creating a hypothetical situation to base the ‘Design Noir’ exercise on. The  design scenario we created would be used throughout the activity. A theme that cropped up is something that is plastered all over the news currently data sharing scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytical. We discussed the ethical implications of this scenario and how it applied to a Black Mirror episode ‘Nosedive.’ This episode is set in a world where people can rate each other from one to five stars for every interaction they have, and which can impact their socioeconomic status. From this discussion we decided our goal would be ‘social scoring’. We then thought of two extreme situations this design could invoke, follow this up by generating extreme ideas.

Design noir
Design Noir activity sheet. As we didn’t have much time we worked through some of the boxes on the activity. 

02. Moral Value Map

We continued to use our hypothetically design created in the design noir exercise, and outlined what human values are relevant to this design. We then translated this into a concern to help us describe the context of use and the potential concerns. Within our group we then discussed and mapped our concerns and the effect on each concern.

Personally, I found this exercise to be most relevant and useful as it is something that I can use when outlining my future MA primary research. This exercise allows the researcher to uncover what values are relevant to your idea and how your design affects them. Morals are an important aspect of ethics especially when your dealing with people that are potentially vulnerable.

03. Ethical Disclaimer

This activity can be used as a tool to help outline and set the ethical terms of your primary research. For this activity we used a different design scenario. ??? discussed how she uses abstract observational drawings to help her capture movement, expressions and interactions. She showed us some of her illustrations and they are abstract, you can defiantly see what she is trying to express however, the identity of that person is complete unidentifiable. We discussed the unethical situations that covert observation can encompass.

ethical disclaimer.jpg
We began the Ethical Disclaimer although we ran out of time and was unable to complete it. 

The value of this exercise is to uncover ‘moral sensitivity.’ In this case we discussed covert observation, in the context of my own primary research I think it would be extremely unethical for me to document covertly someone having panic attack and using that to further my design. Situations involving mental health are deeply personal and I don’t think morally it would be acceptable to conduct????

04. Ethical Contract

This exercise is a technique that aims to guides us through the negotiation process with  the stakeholders involved in order to find common ethical ground. The exercise begins by outlining the ethical themes and what they mean. It is then important to define who is responsible for each situation. Once this has been done outline the three main ethical objectives  and design goals.

Unfortunately, we did not have time to complete this activity never the less, I have read and understood it, acknowledging it’s value. This may come into use later on in my project.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to start o this exercise. This exercise isn’t directly relevant to myself at the moment but it will be when I go into the professional world and multiple researchers are working on the project – at the moment I am the researcher and



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: