Helping Farmers Grow: Design and Social Change in Haiti

By Keith Owens.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Can communication design—a practice often associated with aesthetic triviality or unashamed consumerism—function as a change agent in a developing country? This paper suggests that as part of a multi-skilled, French-led assistance program, design has helped alleviate the plight of rural Haitian farmers, their families and the communities in which they live. First describing how Haiti’s political, social and environmental conditions combine to negatively impact the island’s farmers, this paper will then introduce the Farmer-to-Farmer and ANATRAF programs and why design was considered important to their allied missions. Next, it will explain how the design process and its resulting contributions will ultimately combine to support Haitian farmers in their desire for economic sufficiency, personal autonomy and renewed community. Finally, with this particular example in mind the paper will offer some generalized observations about socially focused design.

Keywords: Agriculture, Design, Ethics, Haiti, Social Responsibility

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.15-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 525.448KB).

Prof. Keith Owens

Assistant Professor, College of Visual Arts + Design, The University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA

Appointed in 2003, Keith Owens is an assistant professor at the University of North Texas College of Visual Arts + Design. In addition to teaching, Mr. Owens researches and writes about design ethics and social responsibility. Before joining UNT, Mr. Owens owned Rebus Design in Dallas, worked as a senior designer at Davison Design in San Francisco and a designer at Strickland Design in Houston. Between his time working in Houston and San Francisco, Mr. Owens spent five years as a visiting design instructor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. While teaching there, he also completed a masters degree at West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas. Mr. Owens is an honors graduate of Texas Tech and West Texas State Universities. He is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

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