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Dan Wong

How do you feel about organizations and institutions getting involved with supporting social activism?

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With all of the turmoil that seems to be going on in the world today, and with politics and morality being conflated when discussing emotionally charged topics, when are designers responsible for the outcomes of their work? Such examples would include gun control, people's rights to their own bodies, immigration, outside influences in politics. Should educators only be teaching methodologies to assess the veracity of the sources? Is it okay for educators to take a stance, as they did in the 1960s?

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There is some gray area here. I think a good start would be to look at the AAUP academic freedom statement. Academic Freedom Statement

When I introduce controversial topics into the classroom it has to follow the curriculum of course. So for instance when I taught a section on advertising design, during the last election, I did want to make the students think about who they were going to vote for. So we turned it into a debate about propaganda. They first had to take a test to see who they sided with during the election, then create a pro campaign poster for their candidate. The very day they turned in their poster, I gave them the second part of the assignment, which was to design a pro campaign poster for the person that didn't side with their beliefs. 

Not sure if we need to take a stance, if we can get our students to make educated decisions. 

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Under Education legislation, New Zealand's universities are charged with the responsibility to act as "the critic and conscience of society". We have an obligation towards society, and are expected to work for what we view as the good of that society, even at the cost of passing judgement on it. So, in that context, social activism is an expected action of our researchers and our students.

Edited by Brian Lucid
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