Blog Post 9: Brainstorming Solutions

Throughout the last few weeks we have engaged with many different mind-mapping exercises in order to engage with our topics in a collaborative and comprehensive manner.

Mind mapping exercises are a great way to visually organise information when trying to explore and solve complex problems as they can demonstrate relationships between information, a key requirement when looking at interrelated issues and participants. The collaborative mind mapping exercises facilitated in-class discussions and debates around complex issues, allowing us to delve into aspects of these sub-issues that we hadn’t previously considered.

 The mind mapping exercise that we completed in class gave us greater insights into our problem statement for assessment task three.
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Since completing this map, I have fleshed out and refined my problem statement. In completing the prompts for my mind map, I’ve integrated the areas that I focused on within my research, namely; the effect the media and government have had on narratives related to refugee and asylum seekers issues, the dehumanising portrayal of refugees which has lead to fear and disengagement within the public, and the potential social media platforms (such as Twitter) have to express narratives to that counter those in mainstream media.

My problem statement came to fruition by answering some basic prompt questions, recording them on the mind map and observing some of the interconnected responses. As I had already established a broad area to focus on -restating a sense of identity and humanity amongst refugees to shift public perceptions- my responses were given with reference to that framework.

Who are the primary participants involved in this issue?
As we don’t live in a societal vacuum there are multiple overlapping participants that lie at the core of refugee and asylum seeker issues. It feels impolitic to consider these participants in isolation, as that would separate how each participant proliferates and is influenced by one another. It’s important to remember that the reason refugee and asylum seekers are considered an issue is as a direct result of politicised and institutionalised racism, a situation that implicates everyone, especially our media and governing bodies.
The subject area I’m specifically looking into directly focuses on refugee and asylum seeker narratives and ways to connect this with a public audience. Through primary research I found that a heightened sense of apathy for refugee issues stemmed from a sense of disconnection and isolation from the people and the subject matter. It’s important that the refugee narratives are accessible for the general public and come directly from refugees and asylum seekers themselves.

What are the boundaries of this problem?
The boundaries of this problem lie in a number of structural and societal issues that are in many way interconnected. On a structural level there are issues which affect and are affected by governing bodies; the Australian government, the United Nations, treaties and relations between foreign countries and even international maritime laws. On a societal level, boundaries are a result of miscommunication and a general lack of understanding. They encompass a range of misrepresentations that are perpetuated throughout the media and as a result of censorship laws.

 Why should we be engaging in solving these issues?
We should be engaging with these issues as it’s a basic human right to seek asylum. It’s the responsibility of people in other countries to assist when people are displaced as a result of persecution. A denial of these basic human rights is a denial of compassion and of our humanity.

Where are these issues occurring?
Whilst my focus area is around refugees in Australis’s offshore processing centres (Nauru and Manus) the refugee crises is a global humanitarian issue, effecting tens of millions of people around the world. The more abstract issue of racial intolerance permeates our societies around the world, fuelled by governments and mainstream media outlets.

When did this occurred? Is it currently occurring?
The displacement of people as a result of persecution and violence is not a modern phenomenon – it’s been occurring for hundreds of years. In the last 20 years however, this issue has been politicised as a threat to quality of life. It’s in these last 20 years that we’ve seen laws introduced that highlight our societies growing conservative nature.

Emergent practices and design thinking is required for addressing complex issues such as these explored within this subject. With this level of complexity and depth, it’s easy for the individual to become overwhelmed, to feel the issue is too big to make an impact. Over the last few months, I’ve learned the value of in-depth research within deeply complex issues. Discovering manageable focus areas and tangible solutions within design encourages social and attitudinal change from a grassroots level. This exercise was helpful in that it motivated us to collate and organise ideas in order to find manageable and focused design solutions.

Image Reference:
Wallman, S, So Below (2016)