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Digital Ethics

Research infrastructure "Digital ethics investigates what it looks like for individuals and societies to handle digital technology in a responsible way." The aim of this project is to catalyse the creation of a body of knowledge in digital ethics, able to support the installment of the EIT KIC Competence Centre for Design in Umeå, by providing a strong academical grounding to its activities in the field of interaction design and societal transformation.

The research programme is a collaboration between Umeå Institute of Design, the Department of Computing Science at Umeå University, Umeå Kommun, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, other departments of Umeå University, the Department of Industrial Design of the University of Eindhoven and regional and national companies.


With this research project, activities are being set up with the scope of raising awareness, creating and consolidating knowledge in this relatively new field (PhD research projects, research seminars, conferences, open debates, workshops). A dialogue with the local government and regional societal actors is facilitated, to gather challenges and fields of application, to explore, experiment and validate the research work. During the course of this project, academic production in the field of Digital Ethics is promoted and coordinated.


Umeå University has strategically invested in the growth of the area of Ethics and AI, with a pivot in the Department of Computing Science. Umeå Institute of Design's role in this field is to explore how to design for ethics, guaranteeing the respect of basic human and more-than-human rights. 

This research-through-design and research-through-pedagogics approach will develop, in the longer run, both pedagogical tools and research methodologies concerning designing for interaction, from an ethically sound perspective.

Umeå Kommun is developing a strong practice of participated citizenship and governance, both in civic and urban planning and in the business and manufacturing landscape. Its operational driving values are gravitating around social and environmental sustainability.

Design is considered and addressed as a core competence for the region, which is functional to implement such values and create sustainable practices to tackle current societal challenges. Umeå Kommun has in 2019 kicked off an initiative called Design by Umeå that gathers all the design driven efforts in the region, among which UID and The Pink are included. For these reasons, Umeå Kommun is incentivising a design-driven inquiry on how digital processes can be designed and adopted in a way that respects values such as integrity, safety, security and sustainability.

RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden, is a state-owned applied research-driven actor with a strong track-record of engaging with different groups in society, coordinating their collaborations. RISE has a deep knowledge in all aspects related to digital technologies and possesses a strong experience in implementing solutions and proposals, such as design interventions, pedagogical initiatives, debates, workshops; such a research-driven actor has the ability to gather, coordinate and curate the transformation of practices of stakeholders from industry, academia, public sector and the civil society to find and undertake concrete cases concerning technology and society. 


The EIT KIC Design Competence Centre will catalyse the creation of an ecosystem where creative industries will offer their artistic and creative skills to boost sustainable transformation of more traditional industries. In this context, the expertise of Digital Ethics is pivotal to develop ways of prototyping sustainable futures, with the use of digital technologies as material.

The ecosystem will operate providing transdisciplinary perspectives and objectives that are informed by a solid foundation in technology and design research, as well as by social and behavioral sciences and the humanities, in order to develop capacity to tackle the effects and ethical implications of technological change and its effects across society.

The center is establishing and hosting collaboration ecosystems, which will enable the actors within these systems to identify relevant partnerships and competences, and thus act as a catalyser for continued exchange of knowledge and best practices.


Ambra Trotto
Associate professor
Latest update: 2021-11-23