Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


Teaching and learning design theory are challenging tasks. To solely teach design theory through rules or codes of conduct, could be seen as a static way of approaching a complex phenomenon. In this paper, we argue for the importance of engagement in sensitive design situations, an approach that entails a process of de-emphasizing objectivity and promoting subjectivity through real-life sensitive cases to learn from, to foster reflectiveness for the future designers. This study aims to explore how sensitive design situations can be used when teaching and learning design theory. The research approach consists of a case study in a Nordic university, and a course in interaction design in a software engineering program. The sensitive design situation involves designing a digital artifact that can help children that have been diagnosed with cancer, cope with their cancer treatment. The main contribution is a teaching method for cultivating ethical design, which includes the application of sensitive design situations when teaching ethics to students. We illustrate that by forwarding three characteristics that can be used when teaching and learning ethical design through sensitive design situations.