Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation_ShruthiChivukula_Final.pdf (50.64 MB)

Designing for Co-Creation to Engage Multiple Perspectives on Ethics in Technology Practice

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posted on 2021-07-22, 19:46 authored by Sai Shruthi ChivukulaSai Shruthi Chivukula
As part of an increasing interest in a "Turn to Practice," HCI scholars have investigated the felt design complexities and ethical concerns in everyday technology practice, calling for practice-led research approaches. Given the ethical nature of technology design work, practitioners have to often negotiate and mediate their personal values, disciplinary notions of ethics, organizational policies and values, and societal impact of their design work. To tease apart and describe practitioner accounts of ethical aspects of their design work, I used three different approaches to investigate what practitioners from different professional roles communicate about and participate in (potentially) strengthening their ethical engagement in their everyday design work within and across role boundaries: survey, design of co-creation activities, and deployment/pilot of these co-creation activities.

In the survey study, I identify and describe the differences in disciplinary values, responsibilities, commitments, and alignment in relation to ethics and social responsibility through captured data from 256 technology and design practitioners from a range of professional roles.

As a part of the design phase of co-creation activities, I design, iterate, and prototype three co-creation activities (A: Tracing the Complexity; B: Dilemma Postcards; and C: Method Heuristics) and sequences of these activities to engage a range of different professional roles to communicate about their ethical action and (potentially) strengthen their ethical engagement in everyday design work. I define design vocabulary/Schemas: 1) A.E.I.O.YOU model to investigate the landscape of ethics in practice and 2) Classifiers to codify the activities and potential variants.

As a part of the deployment phase of these designed co-creation activities, I piloted four sequences of these activities with twelve practitioners with three different professional roles per sequence, engaging in approx. 23 hours of facilitation, artifact creation, and conversation. I present the results of deployment of the co-creation sessions where practitioners articulated that the co-creation activities helped expand their ethical horizons through self-awareness, learn new approaches to ethics vocabulary, become (re-)aware of their current practice, and imagine trajectories of change in their practice. Practitioners also identified a preliminary set of ethics-related practices that could be better supported such as tools for performance, leadership support, ethics education, and resources for ethical decision making.

Based on the results from these three approaches, I propose contributions to HCI and design audiences. For HCI researchers, practitioners, and educators, the survey results describe differences in professional notions and valence of ethics, framing the need for translation and transdisciplinary approach to ethics in a practice context. For design researchers, the designing of the co-creation activities is a methodological contribution where I propose and illustrate opportunities for creating novel ways to engage practitioners in co-creation work as a means of communicating their felt ethical concerns and practices. For co-creation researchers and professional ethicists, the engagement of practitioners in the co-creation reveal: 1) complexities to facilitate different disciplinary roles and design a space for ``representing'' a range of practitioners; and 2) gaps and potential synergies in supporting practitioners through practice-resonant ethics-focused methods.


National Science Foundation Grant #1657310

National Science Foundation Grant #1909714


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Computer Graphics Technology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Colin M. Gray

Additional Committee Member 2

Austin L. Toombs

Additional Committee Member 3

Paul C. Parsons

Additional Committee Member 4

Katie Shilton

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