I came to SIAT from industry. I have spent the past ten years at design and technology consultancies leading product strategy and business development teams. However, in this time, my curiosity expanded beyond the scope of our client projects towards the theoretical and philosophical aspects of design and technology.
About Jordan's Research
I just completed a Master of Arts at SIAT in the Everyday Design Studio (EDS) under the supervision of Prof. Ron Wakkary. For my thesis, I analyzed the descriptions of professional designers for ways they exercise agency and enact ethics in design practice. Specifically, and based on an application of actor-network theory, I utilize a posthuman perspective to provide empirical accounts of designers as human and nonhuman hybrids and descriptions of how agency and ethics shared responsibilities.
Why Did You Choose SIAT For Your Studies?
As I became more fascinated by the theoretical, philosophical, and applied aspects of design research, I started to research options for graduate school. Many of the relevant programs I came across are in Europe and the United Kingdom, so it was a pleasant (and slightly mind-blowing) surprise when I discovered SIAT and EDS in greater Vancouver. For this, I am forever indebted to members of a philosophy of technology Facebook group who directed me to Simon Fraser University and a SIAT graduate who specifically referred me to EDS.
How Did Your Studies in SIAT Fit Into Your Future Goals and What is Next For You?
Now that my master’s is complete, I am continuing at SIAT in the PhD program. While it’s still early in the process, it is my hope to continue the research trajectory set out in my master’s thesis. That is, my future research may combine more recent developments in actor network theory (referred to as post-ANT) with Research through Design (RtD) and speculative design approaches. The result, I expect, could be a series of artifacts, products, or things to further explore the values of professional designers and ethics in design practice. For goals beyond the PhD, I have barely thought that far ahead and suppose that any number of futures are possible.
What Was the Highlight of Your Graduate Career?
The highlight of my graduate career so far is twofold. First, it is deeply satisfying to dedicate time to explore a research interest in a supportive community. Until arriving at SIAT and EDS, I did my best to find books to read and online courses to take to satisfy my interest and curiosity. The combination of coursework for skill development with a studio environment and supervisor relationship for guidance and application has helped direct my energy and interests. The result, I’d say, is tangible, purposeful progress.
Secondly, there is a deep satisfaction in completing a research project. I have found the acts of designing and conducting a research study, grounding it in literature and theory, and describing its implications and future possibilities to be both deeply creative and formative. This program and project have changed me as a person. It is a way of becoming.
Any Advice For Prospective Students Considering Pursuing a Graduate Degree in SIAT?
I came to SIAT as a mid-career professional seeking to more fully understand phenomena related to human-technology relations and implications for human values. The coursework, studio-based projects, and thesis provide opportunity to develop the skills necessary to explore topics like these, technically and theoretically. My advice for prospective students is to doubly commit to learning the technical aspects of HCI and design research while openly exploring its near-endless theoretical and applied possibilities.
This story was originally published on the SFU SIAT website on Oct. 4, 2021.