Using Community Engagement to Drive Co-Creation in Rural China
Wei Wang, Nick Bryan-Kinns, Tie Ji


Underdeveloped and developing regions are among the most important arenas for social design and increasingly attract broader interest from other fields of research and practice. Participatory design and co-creation are typical approaches to collecting indigenous wisdom and creating design solutions with social empathy and inclusion. However, the unequal involvement of local participants and inherent knowledge barriers evident in collaborations frequently lead to problems in the suitability and sustainability of systems built in the design process. Strategies and methods for engaging local communities more deeply in co-creation are needed to address these issues. Following transdisciplinary empirical studies in real-world rural Chinese settings, we explored the novel use of interactive drama to engage a local community in short-term cross-cultural co-creation with the goal of building the core characteristics of a local but better community. The results from the participatory process and participants’ feedback are promising, with clear indicators of community engagement and knowledge sharing beyond the design process itself. The lessons learnt and approaches discussed in this paper provide a starting point for increasing community engagement with social design practices and research across different societies.

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