Expanding Knowledge about the Past and Preferred Futures Using Systemic, Values-Based Mapping

Stan Ruecker, Juan de la Rosa, Faithful Oladeji, Rachel B. Melton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Designers have been interested in the relationship(s) between design theory, practice, and pedagogy ever since the field emerged as a scholarly discipline. In this article, we recount how we took a design theory originally developed for use in grassroots policymaking and redeployed it in the graduate classroom. The theory posits that visions of the future are always value-laden and systemic, and designers can understand those visions more thoroughly by examining not just a single design focus, but instead a series of clusters of designs that sit on the periphery of that single design. Eight graduate students were each asked to consider a topic area related to their thesis, then look 50 years into the past of that topic and 50 years into its future, describing designs at each decade that represented the primary values of the period. In this way, they learned about design history in the context of design futures, while simultaneously practicing how to understand design as a process that imbricates value clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-274
Number of pages21
JournalShe Ji
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Design education
  • Mapping
  • Paradigmatic examples
  • Prototyping
  • Systemic approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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