Harnessing technology to re-engage citizens with social issues

About us

The Design+Democracy Project is a research unit at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, New Zealand. We are exploring the role that design and ‘design thinking’ can play in advancing 21st century citizenship. These days, technology has made it easier than ever to access information, connect, build networks and communicate ideas. But technology alone does not mean young people will engage in political conversations. We think design is the missing ingredient. Through design, we can harness technology to build a vibrant democracy.

This year we’re introducing Cannabis Convo, a tool to help voters work out where they stand before New Zealand’s 2020 Cannabis Referendum. We're also hoping to help improve voter turnout at the general elections. Our past initiatives include the award-winning online youth voter facilitation web tools VoteLocal, On the Fence and Ask Away. During the last General Elections in New Zealand, independent research showed our work to be the most successful in engaging young electors. We’re proud of that. Recently we also sought to enrich and draw lessons from the New Zealand Flag Consideration Process through Flagpost.

We believe in collaboration and work in partnership with industry, government, and the social sector.

The Team


Karl Kane

Project Leader, Research Director
BA, BDes (Hons), MDes
Senior Lecturer, School of Design, College of Creative Arts

Tim Parkin

Senior Design Researcher
BDes (Hons), MDes
Associate Professor, School of Design, College of Creative Arts

Tim Turnidge

Design Researcher
BDes (Hons), MDes
Lecturer, School of Design, College of Creative Arts

Student Interns

Morgan Dallas, Patience Kayira, Barbara Garrison

Kate Baxter

Alumni
BDes (Hons)

Thomas Le Bas

Alumni
BDes (Hons), MDes

Meg Howie

Alumni
BDes (Hons), MDes

Kieran Stowers

Alumni
BDes (Hons), MDes

Prof. Claire Robinson

Project Mentor
BA (Hons), BDes, PhD