CASE STUDY

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Challenging power structures in developmental "aid"

As a speculative inquiry, we re-imagined the structures of aid that shape international development work. We designed provocations that explore the issues, inequities, and injury related to and resulting from practices generally described as “social impact,” “philanthropy,” and “helping.” 

ORGANIZATIONAL APOPTOSIS

Philanthropic organizations are founded with a clearly stated mission and expiration date. Once they reach the end of their term (i.e. 25 years), they must disburse all of their funds. Near the end of their term, they plan out their death, reflect on what they did and learned in a “vigil,” and share those reflections in the form of an “obituary” with the public. 

 

Confronting their mortality pushes organizations to be more clear, purposeful, and transparent about how they approach their work—the same way that reflecting on our own imminent deaths can help us uncover how we really want to live our lives. It also prevents organizations from pushing off the impact of their work to a nebulous future; rather, it helps them focus on present-day challenges, as well as on what can be done now to prevent worsening outcomes later (especially for issues like climate change).

 

ROLE: Futuring, Visual Design

TAGS: Speculative design, Mutual aid

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Organizational Apoptosis: Self-induced death of organizations when it takes more resources to maintain them

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The webpage infused with sarcastic humor facilitates non-hierarchical and reflexive forms of engagement, making colonial systems and power relationships apparent. Click to view.