In a highly innovative institutional and geographical framework, university research teams from the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, the University of Buenos Aires, and The New School in New York City have decided to undertake a collaborative research project in the field of design and social development. These research teams have come together in a time of economic crisis in the US (2008-2011), and recognize the economic crises in Thailand (1997-1998) and Argentina (2001-2002). Now is a time when old paradigms and frameworks have been disproven and there is an active search for new approaches.
The group attempts to identify the footprints of the future in the present city – signs likely to indicate the direction of change such as innovative forms of practice, at different levels and scales – whether at the neighborhood or city level. The objective of this activity is to explore what can be gained by working together from different disciplines. By looking at cases on the ground, the research teams from Argentina, Thailand and The United States improves upon current understanding of the city by identifying possible innovative ways to see urban phenomena, and by developing venues for building understanding of the relationships between design, social science and technology. This research takes place in three points around the globe in a time of flux and uncertainty about the future.
The proposed research project is to work in three cities: Bangkok, Buenos Aires, and New York, simultaneously, using non-traditional approaches from social science, history, and design. Through the analysis of similarities and differences across cities from the different disciplinary perspectives, the project focuses not primarily on the disciplines themselves but rather on how to build a common language through which to work in the intersection of design and social science. As a starting point, it will be interesting to see what social scientists, historians and designers identify as innovative, what they observe, how they observe, and, in the end, what do they consider important?
Ultimately, the project seeks to discover what language can help connect the different perspectives. Is this possible? Is this productive? Are there theoretical or empirical advances or results?