Value Integration in Design Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Value integration – a workshop in value thinking and critical making in visual communication design

Gwen Letitis, PhD Candidate and Lecturer, University of Limerick and Cork Institute of Technology
Dr. Muireann McMahon, Lecturer and Course Director BSc. Product Design,  and Technology, University of Limerick
Dr. Adam DeEyto, School of Design, University of Limerick

A workshop in integrating personal values into visual communication design processes & discussion on its merits in the context of responsible practice

The publication “AIGA Designer 2025” offers educators research that will help to foster competent designers. One trend highlighted is “Core values matter” which states:

People connect emotionally with stories that are authentic reflections of an organizations’ ethos and show loyalty over time when ethical and humanistic values drive all aspects of operations. (AIGA, 2017, p6).

Students need an understanding of how values are used. In order for this to happen, students must first understand their own values. This leads to better competency, but also to students developing strong ethical identities, which can lead to responsible design.

By identifying which personal values someone brings to the design process, individuals and teams can begin to shape how they view and develop a problem or opportunity space to work within. This has the potential not only to change existing perspectives to more holistic ones, but also to change behaviors, methods, and inquiry when dealing with complex challenges, to ensure design decisions are responsible, sustainable, and value-driven. (Benson and Napier, 2012, p198)

The author is developing a process of “value integration” in which visual communication design students integrate and enact values through design. While doing so, students observe and reflect on the positive effects on their work and beyond. The author suggests that when values are integrated and enacted upon, responsible design becomes intrinsic to practice. The notion of ethical and humanistic values driving design (AIGA, 2017, p6) becomes practical rather than notional. The process is built upon the research of Pamela Napier who designed an original process of integration. This provided a starting point for current research.

A question that relates to value integration is “How might critical making be integrated into curricula?” (MAKE – 2018, 2017, p1). Perhaps it is more relevant to first ask “How might critical making be integrated into design and work processes?” Within this process of “value integration”, making is core. It allows students to create tangible reflections of their values, enabling discussion and reflection. Here, thinking and making are intertwined. Critical making becomes a way of designing – a way of doing.

This workshop offers those in attendance the experience of “value integration”. The process involves value identification, goal setting, and critical making through reflection and discussion. It is hoped that the workshop will provide attendees with an engaging experience of the process, so as to encourage discussion and evaluation of its merits (or not), and its possible future.

The workshop is associated with the presentation “Value integration – the development of a process of value thinking and critical making for visual communication design students”. A short introduction will summarize the presentation for those who did not attend to provide context.


Benson E. and Napier, P. (2012). Connecting Values: Teaching Sustainability to Communication Designers. Design And Culture, 4 (2), 195-214. Retrieved 28 January 2017,×13281948975521

AIGA. (2017). AIGA Designer 2025: Why Design Education should Pay Attention to Trends. (pp. 6-7). Retrieved 24 November 2017, from

AIGA (2017). MAKE – 2018 Design Educators Conference – Call for Participation. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from