Makerspaces and toolshops are popping up in schools, libraries and universities around the world, promoting the idea that by opening up access to comprehensive set of industry-standard tools, (almost) anyone can make (almost) anything. But how do we know when making almost anything is both productive and meaningful? How might we use our makerly skills to make a positive impact on the world? This course provides students with the hands-on skills and critical conceptual framework to engage in making as form of knowledge production, and explore its potential value and limitations in a broader societal context.

Making as research can be understood as generating insights by doing stuff, by making, remaking (and breaking) things, by prototyping speculative alternatives and reflecting on that process together. The ability to peel away the layers of a problem and communicate interesting perspectives that can be shared in compelling ways is more important here than immediately solving that problem. We will practice researching societal issues, and their relationship with design and technology through reflective experimentation with various high-tech and low-tech techniques, tools and materials. We address the norms and values that inform existing product designs, branding strategies and technologies: who benefits from a given design? Who doesn't? Could it be different? By asking these questions we aim to open a design space with room for difference and alternatives, on a conceptual level as well as product level. Students are invited interrogate the unintended consequences of human-made things, by making the invisible visible, the intangible tangible and the unthinkable imaginable in the form of evocative and innovative design objects that spark discussion.

The 30EC course combines intensive training in digital fabrication (tools and techniques like laser cutting, 3D printing, electronics production), an introduction to practice-based creative inquiry (making as research), and a reflective exercise in interdisciplinary collaboration. Together with peers, coaches, researchers and guests from the fields of design, arts and technology, students explore, inquire, think-through-making, and develop ways to present that process as a valuable result in and of itself. In the second trimester (week 11-22) students work on a team project in partnership with researchers from the university’s research groups. The course culminates in a class expo.

For more info, please contact coordinator Loes Bogers: l.bogers [at] hva [dot] nl