RMeS Summer School 2020: Design Thinking and Making for the Humanities

The New Normal: Design Thinking and Making for the Humanities
Constructing Knowledge for Creativity and Impact 

When? 24-25 June 2020
Time? TBA
Where? Maastricht University – Online
Organized by? Professor Susan Schreibman (UM), Marianne Ping Huang (Aarhus University) and RMeS
Open to? PhD candidates and RMa students
Fee (non-members): € 250

When registering, please specify if you want to obtain 5 or 6 EC (to count as a full elective for your degree), and please specify your Time Zone (or where you will be end of June), since we want to take this into consideration for the formation of work groups.

THE SUMMER SCHOOL IS FULLY BOOKEDplease send an e-mail to rmes-fgw@uva.nl with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.

This summer school, held in Maastricht University will revolve around the twin pillars of Design Thinking and Maker Culture. A mixture of lectures, hands-on workshops, and Lightening Challenges will provide participants with the skills, theories, and methods to take a more creative, proactive, and empowered approach to research design, to meaning making in modalities beyond the textual, and in exploring what humanities students can bring to discussions to solve the grand challenges of our time.

The summer school will start a month in advance with an online course that will introduce the themes of the summer school. 


The coronavirus pandemic has shifted our lives into unknown territory: it has upended our work, our studies, our relationships, our teaching. It has made us reconsider the shape of our lives, as well as our futures. A crisis like this one challenges us to think differently – courageously, creatively, collectively. To this end, the 2020 RMeS Summer School will focus on the twin pillars of Design Thinking and Maker Culture. It will provide participants with the skills, theories, and methods to 1) take a more creative, proactive, and empowered approach to conceptual thinking and research design; 2) to explore meaning making in modalities beyond the textual; and 3) to open up new critical and creative ways of thinking about what humanities students can offer the grand challenges of our time.

The concepts of design thinking and making culture are somewhat new to the humanities, but they have been practiced in many other disciplines for decades. The Summer School will provide you with an overview of the history of design thinking, looking its various schools of thought and practice, and give you an introduction to the more recently theorised space of maker culture. Together, we will look at how those in the arts, humanities, and creative and cultural industries use these twin pillars in everyday practice, and how these areas could benefit your thinking, your creativity, your writing, and your research.

It is of course a great pity that we cannot meet face-to-face in Maastricht this year, but offering the Summer School online also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how the coronavirus has impacted modes of teaching and learning itself – to reflect on the ‘new normal’ within an educational paradigm. As we have all likely realized by now, what takes place in traditional classrooms is not easily migrated into online offerings: the class dynamic changes, our attention spans decrease, and the myriad of visual and bodily clues we use as teachers and as learners all but disappear. But online teaching, if well-planned, can offer affordances that not are not available to traditional classrooms, such as exercises that allow students to self-check knowledge, the possibility to replay audio or videos, or to re-read content at one’s one pace, as well as the ability to provide content in multiple modalities that caters to a wider variety of learning styles than traditional text-based arguments. The designers of this summer school believe that these methods, tools, and affordances are key to successful online delivery, and we will therefore use a range of online modalities within a blended educational approach through asynchronous and synchronous materials and sessions.

In reconceiving the Summer School, we also reconfigured its temporal contours. There will now be structured readings assigned on a weekly basis beginning 29 May (in the month leading up to more intensive Summer School days on 24-25 June), punctuated by weekly Zoom tutorials that allow you to reflect on the ‘readings’, as well as on the modalities of learning. Two days of synchronous interaction (24-25 June) will be composed of a mixture of lectures and hands-on workshops (albeit in somewhat morphed formats to better fit the online environment). Keynotes will be given by Professor Mark Ratto, the developer of the theory of critical making, and MANND (aka Signe Ungerman and Maria Engermann) on MANND VR Experiences. The 24th will also feature a virtual cocktail hour in which we will share our favourite cocktail recipes in our most favourite, quirky, or unusual cocktail glasses.

Our aim in this summer school is not only to provide you with the skills, theories, and methods to take a more creative, proactive, and empowered approach to your research, but to provide you with opportunities to reflect critically and think through how the current corona-times have changed our lives, our educational processes, our relationships, and our connectivity.

We look forward to sharing, working, and learning with you during this new normal summer school.

Summer School Schedule:

Phases of the Summer School

The summer school is divided into five weeks with two phases as follows:

Phase I 

  • Week I: 29 May – 4 June
  • Week II: 5 June-11 June
  • Week III: 12 June-18 June
  • Week IV: 19-23 June

Phase II

  • Week V: 24-25 June

In Phase I, during Weeks I, II, III, online readings for the Core Curriculum will be assigned on a Friday. Students will have a week to do the readings which will be discussed on the following Thursday afternoon in a Zoom tutorial of between an hour to an hour and a half (possibly dividing the group in two if participant numbers are large). Readings assigned for Week IV will be workshop specific.

Phase II will take place over two days, 24-25 June. During these days there will be online lectures and workshops. As with previous years, students will be able to register for two workshops.

During Phase I, the IGNITE project will also be hosting three online conferences in the form of digital roundtables. At two of these roundtables the IGNITE courses will be introduced. Students are expected to attend these conferences. In the weekly Zoom meetings we will also reflect on how a traditional conference session migrates to an online setting, along with what is lost and what is gained.

Core Curriculum 

Phase I tutorials and readings will cover the core content: the introduction to design thinking and maker culture that will inform the workshops and lectures on the 24th and 25th. Core curriculum will be assigned from the #dariahTeach platform (https://clarin.oeaw.ac.at/) from Introduction to Design Thinking and Making as well as specific articles as specified in the schedule below.

Phase I: Curriculum 

Week Zoom Tutorial Curriculum Readings
Week I: 29 May – 4 June 4 June Core Introduction to Design Thinking and Making: Unit I (c 2-3 hours)
Week II: 5-11 June 11 June Core Introduction to Design Thinking and Making: Unit II (c 2-3 hours)
Week III: 12-18 June 18 June Core Introduction to Design Thinking and Making: Unit III (c-2-3 hours)
Week IV: 19-23 June none Workshop-Specific Will be made available


Phase II: 24-25 June

Wednesday 24 June 2020
10.00-10.30 – Welcome and Introductions
10.30-11.30 – Keynote: MANND VR Experience
12.30-15.30 – Parallel Workshops
16.00-17.00    Virtual Cocktail Hour

Thursday 25 June 2020
10.00-13.00 – Parallel Workshops
14.00-15.00 – Keynote: Matt Ratto, Critical Making
15.15-16.00 – Plenary Closing Discussion: The New Normal
16.00-16.30 – Assignment for Students taking additional ECTS explained

Wednesday 1 July 2020
15.00-16.00 – Pitch for students taking additional ECTS


The summer school is delighted that Matt Ratto, the creator of the concept of Critical Making and MANND (aka Signe Ungermand and Maria Engermann) on MANND VR Experience will give keynote lectures.

Matt Ratto is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, Director of the Bachelor of Information degree program, and the Bell University Labs Chair in Human-Computer Interaction. His work explores the intersections between digital technologies and the human life world, with a particular focus on new developments that trouble the divide between online and offline modes of production. His work crosses both the boundaries between the digital and physical world and the divide between humanities and engineering disciplines. He coined the term ‘critical making” in 2007 to describe work that combines humanities insights and engineering practices, and has published extensively on this concept. A current project involves the development of a cost-effective software and hardware toolchain for the scanning, design, and 3D printing of lower-limb prostheses for use in the developing world. This work is being carried out in partnership with Hope and Healing International, and rehabilitation hospitals in Canada, Uganda, and Tanzania.

MANND is a XR production house based out of Aarhus, Denmark and established in 2017 by co-founders Maria Herholdt Engermann and Signe Ungermand. Our mission at MANND is to develop and challenge the use and understanding of XR in order to create the next era of branded content showcasing, communication and shared experiences. We create a broad spectrum of experiences that vary in intent and content. Some products are created through an artistic expression with a fascination for investigating different aspects of how to further push storytelling boundaries. Other pieces focus on helping companies and organisations showcase their product and/or message through VR & AR solutions that can efficiently help re-engineer company value chains.

MANND, https://www.mannd.dk/


Workshop I: Exploring Digital Narratives: New Modalities, New Audiences, New Opportunities
Delivered by Susan Schreibman, Professor of Digital Arts and Culture, Maastricht University

Workshop II: 3D (Re)making – Authenticity, Affordances & Aura
Delivered by Costas Papadopoulos, Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities and Culture Studies, Maastricht University 

Workshop III: Critical Fabulations for A New Normal 
Delivered by Marianne Ping Huang, Associate Professor and Development Coordinator for Cultural Creative Collaborations, Aarhus University

Workshop IV: What can games do and what can we do with games? Games bringing change, having purpose, creating value.
Delivered by Rikke Toft Nørgård, Associate Professor of Educational Design and Technology, Aarhus University