Change design?

We’re introducing ‘Change Design’ as a unifying term to encompass the many disciplines, activities, and institutions driving socio-political change and innovation. We see Change Design as a situation-based and action-oriented field of practice for navigating and responding to complex socio-political problems. It is an emergent and inherently interdisciplinary practice which is comprised of civil servants, activists and social designers.

What’s the big deal?

We’ve observed first hand that meaningful and effective contributions to sophisticated Change Design require a transitional step between education and work as well as an ability for multidisciplinary collaboration, but in practice, this isn’t always available.

While there is a lot of existing knowledge and expertise across Change Designers — civil servants, activists and social designers —  the cognitive glue to foster global, intergenerational, and cross-disciplinary ongoing learning in Change Design is missing at scale.

We see this a risk: a risk to the social change momentum, a risk to the role of Change Design in social fields, and most importantly a risk to the people and communities we have a responsibility to serve and collaborate with.

“Design is ubiquitous; anywhere we look, we see design busy at work, from our hand-held devices to cities, and from education and health to food and agriculture.

Social theorists have not taken design seriously at this level; conversely, designers have gone about their task without sufficient critical awareness of the fundamental fact that what they do indelibly shapes the kinds of subjects we become, the ecologies we inhabit, what we enable or destroy – in other words, as design critic Anne-Marie Willies puts it, that design designs: we design the world and the world designs us back.”


A Layered Learning Journey

All too often continued learning occurs through lecture, a reading, a single bootcamp or workshop, however the evidence is clear that people need multiple and repeated dimensions to absorb and apply new skills. We’ve created a layered learning model that provides a diversity of learning experiences. The Residency will provide a platform for people to participate on their infinite learning journey as both teachers and learners.

  1. Explicit Learning - from experts with multiple references points to learn both foundational content and latest advancements in the sector

  2. Participatory learning - on real-time projects to learn by doing

  3. On-demand learning -  as you go, just-in-time from mentors with a ‘balcony view’

  4. Peer-to-peer learning - with complimentary-sector buddies and with like-discipline learning clusters

  5. Self driven learning - through crowdsourced resources provided across The Residency collective


The Residency will continually co-build foundational learning in the interstitial topics that allow for exceptional Change Design. This is our working list of content that will be further shaped through collaboration and research.


  • Design Ethics

  • Power Dynamics and Distribution

  • Situation-centered Design

  • Genuine Multidisciplinary Collaboration

  • Systems Thinking and Systems Change


  • Participatory Co-design with People With Lived Experience

  • Self-Determined Innovation with Indigenous Populations

  • Prototyping Policy in High-Risk Contexts

  • Implementation Science and Sustainable Design

  • Design for Outcomes-Driven Commissioning

  • Place-based and Collective Impact Approaches

  • Design for Accountability

Connections to Sector-Change Design In Action

  • Social justice and legal empowerment

  • Child protection and family well being

  • Public sector health

  • Economic development

  • Ageing experience and populations

  • Housing and place-making

  • Open government & open data

  • Information/ data rights & equity

  • Anti-corruption

  • Public procurement and contracting

  • Public policy making and deliberation

A ‘Collective’ Operational Model

We are committed to a structure that encourages passion, integrity and creativity. At the core, the structure we have in mind shares power and invites you into an environment that gives back to you as much as you give to it.

Membership guides the collective. If you join us as a Resident, you also become a member. If you join us as a Collaborator, you also become a member.

Although we are starting The Residency, we look to you to guide it. As a member, you will gain resources, networks and ideas from The Residency. All members will have opportunities to participate in decision-making.

Our Writing

Read more about our perspectives here:

Introducing: The Residency

A Change Design practical learning collective, Medium, April 5, 2019

Absorbing Design in Social Systems

What prevents design stickiness in the social sector, Medium June 4, 2019