The DCitizens project hosted its first Summer School from the 11th to the 13th of July 2023 at Instituto Superior Técnico. The event brought together 18 students interested in Human-Computer Interaction and Digital Civics, along with experts in the field, to engage with community-led projects (Portuguese Refugee Council, Intercultural European Club & Aga Khan Foundation).

Under the theme From User-Centred to Community-Led Design, DCitizens organized the Summer School to explore strategies and techniques for engaging and collaborating with communities to co-create, deploy, and evaluate digital technologies that empower citizens to address meaningful challenges. Attendees had the chance to learn from experts, tackle real-world challenges, and work alongside members of local communities through hands-on activities. The goal was to equip students with skills to develop community-led processes and activities for designing technology.

John Hook, Reem Talhouk, Vasilis Vlachokyriakos, Pamela Briggs, Kyle Montague, and Hugo Nicolau composed the group of experts who shared their knowledge and facilitated the hands-on activities. Bárbara Oliveira (Portuguese Refugee Council) and Patricia Luís (Aga Khan Foundation) also joined the discussion.

“I loved the experience of having the time and space to discuss and ask questions without requiring all the answers. It was very interesting to see academia’s approach to civil society, considering technology as a factor to help with community development and reduce the gap between vulnerable communities and an increasingly technological world. This summer school helped us clearly define the goals of our project (Balcão do Bairro), and it will undoubtedly influence our next steps”, said Patricia Luís from the Aga Khan Foundation.

DCitizens is utilising Summer Schools to promote research and innovation in Digital Civics in Lisbon. According to the project coordinator, Hugo Nicolau, “The schools are crucial for introducing the next generation of technology creators to a new design paradigm in which citizens and communities lead the design of novel technologies aimed at driving positive social change.” The project has planned two additional Summer School events for the second and third years.

Additionally, DCitizens will continue to issue a yearly call for Collaborative Projects to support community-based organisations aiming to make positive social change through digital technologies. Please check the 2023 Call for Collaborative Projects for more information on this matter.