About Mitra Gusheh

Mitra Gusheh has most recently been the Youth Engagement Program Coordinator for Oxfam Australia where she was responsible for designing and implementing the agencies national youth program which included the Design4Change project. Mitra has also been the director of the design agency Ilk Media and taught at the School of Design, University of Technology, Sydney. Prior to her design focus, she worked across a number of organisations within the community sector.

About the PhD

This study explores the complex nature of design practitioners’ inevitable social impact and works towards revealing ways in which the design community can navigate beyond the perceived boundaries of their professional identity in order to better their understanding of, and deepen their engagement in, positive social change.

Designers exert social and political will as part of their every day professional practice. Despite this, the frameworks and resources available to graphic designers as part of their professional development provide a narrow and often imposing perspective on ways in which designers can engage in their social context. Contrary to their intention, the oversimplified and prescriptive strategies offered, limit the designers’ ability to own their impact and engage at a deeper level.

An analysis of the current understandings of design’s social impact and ways in which designers reach these understandings will inform an iterative research process. This study will engage with both early career and established designers to identify ways in which understanding of design’s social impact can be expanded. By doing so, this project will support future designers to explore and take ownership of the social impact of their work, leading to designers’ improved connection with and contribution to social change.