DCitizens Summer School 2023 - From User-Centred to Community-led Design
  • When? July 11th – 13th
  • Where? Lisbon, Portugal
  • Cost? Free
  • How? Register here

DCitizens Summer School 2023 is a three-day training event in Lisbon, Portugal, that will explore the strategies and techniques to engage and work with communities to co-create, deploy, and evaluate civic technologies that seek to empower citizens in service provision and civic participation. The Summer School has been designed for students studying, working on research, or interested in Human-Computer Interaction and Community Informatics; and will take place from the 11th to 13th July 2023 at Instituto Superior Técnico (University of Lisbon).

Our theme for Summer School 2023 is From User-Centred to Community-Led Design. User-centred design (UCD) is held as a standard of successful design, including the design of computing technologies, services, and products. It posits that users’ needs should be central to the design process. You should design for the user, from the initial stages of understanding user needs to the iterative evaluation/refinement of prototypes based on users’ feedback.

Recent critiques of UCD have highlighted the need for a shift to designing with or designing by, rather than designing for. Key to this design movement is the idea of co-creation: the concept of empowering communities with the skills necessary to innovate and create solutions for themselves. Participants are not involved as research subjects or consultants but rather as designers engaged in active and sustained collaboration. Community-led design is an approach in which the co-design process, not just the outcome, is developed through collaborations with community members who will be directly impacted by the design.

Through a series of seminars and hands-on activities, you will have the opportunity to go engage with real-world challenges and collaborate with members of local communities, which aim to provide you with some of the skills to develop community-led processes and activities for technology design.


Registration is FREE but mandatory through the registration link. Attendees must register by July 5th as places are limited. Registration includes lunches and coffee breaks. Travel and accommodation are not included.


The summer school is designed as a highly hands-on, project-based event where participants partner with community-based organisations to create projects grounded on real-world community needs and assets. Lectures and feedback will be provided as needed throughout the summer school.

Before the summer school, you will receive a design brief and other resources.

Time (GMT+1)TuesdayWednesdayThursday
09h30Welcome (Hugo Nicolau)
10h00Keynote: Responsive Video Media and its Application to Address Societal Challenges (Jonathan Hook)

Room: IST Conference Centre (Civil Pavillion -1 floor)
Keynote: Embedded Research & Social Movements
(Vasilis Vlachokyriakos)

Room: IST Conference Centre (Civil Pavillion -1 floor)
Hands-on: Pilot Activities with Community Partners

Room: iStart Room (Math Pavillion -1)
11h00Coffee BreakCoffee BreakCoffee Break
11h30Seminar: Community-Led Design (Reem Talhouk)

Room: IST Conference Centre (Civil Pavillion -1 floor)
Seminar: Ideation and Engagement
(Kyle Montague)

Room: IST Conference Centre (Civil Pavillion -1 floor)
Round-table Discussion: Reflections and Provocations (Pamela Briggs)

Room: iStart Room (Math Pavillion -1)
14h00Hands-on: Exploring the Problem Space
– Quick individual introductions
– Define the problem statement
– Define community and stakeholders (stakeholder map)
– Explore existing approaches and efforts (desk research)

Room: iStart Room (Math Pavillion -1)
Hands-on: Exploring the Solution Space
– Define the design goal
– Prepare community engagement activity

Room: iStart Room (Math Pavillion -1)
Commissioning the following training events (Kyle Montague)

Room: iStart Room (Math Pavillion -1)
15h30Coffee BreakCoffee BreakCoffee Break
– Short pitch on progress
– Comments from community partners and academic mentors

Room: iStart Room (Math Pavillion -1)

– Short pitch on progress
– Comments from academic mentors

Room: iStart Room (Math Pavillion -1)
Agenda from DCitizens Summer School


The DCitizens Summer School 2023 will take place at the Alameda campus of Instituto Superior Técnico (University of Lisbon), in the heart of Lisbon city centre. Técnico is the largest school of Architecture, Engineering, Science and Technology in Portugal, involving a community of over 10,000 people.

Address: Avenida Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal



The design briefs and hands-on activities of the DCitizens Summer School 2023 are directly aligned with ongoing real-world projects in collaboration with three local institutions: the Intercultural European Club, the Aga Khan Foundation, and the Portuguese Refugee Council. Attendees will have the opportunity to work with the partners and hopefully influence and contribute to their Community-Led research.

Bárbara Oliveira (Portuguese Refugee Council)
Patricia Luís (Aga Khan Foundation)


Jonathan Hook

Jonathan is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Interactive Media at the School of Arts and Creative Technologies at the University of York.

His research is situated in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and explores the design and development of new interactive media content forms and tools to support their creation. This research combines my deep interest in new forms of interactive technology and media with empirical, theoretical and methodological perspectives in the human-centred design of novel interfaces and interaction techniques for a broad range of artistic and everyday creative practices.

His current research is focused on designing and developing new forms of responsive and immersive media content, with a particular interest in how they can be applied to address societal challenges (inc., environmental sustainability, mental & physical health, public engagement with data).

More details on his webpage.

Reem Talhouk

Reem is Vice Chancellor Research Fellow in the School of Design and Centre for International Development at Northumbria University.

With a background in nutrition, public health and Human-Computer Interaction, she draws on multiple design methods to investigate how technologies and design methodologies can be used in humanitarian contexts. Reem has used Experience Centered Design methods to work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon to design technologies for food security and community resilience. She has also researched in the Middle East, Europe and Australia on the role of technologies in improving refugee and asylum seekers’ health, wellbeing and their everyday sense of security.

Reem is interested in working with humanitarian innovators to understand their practices and work towards integrating design methodologies and principles into humanitarian innovation practices. She is an active member of the Refugees & Human-Computer Interaction and the HCI4D communities and has been awarded the 2020 Young Digital Leader award in recognition of her work. Reem is also affiliated with the Center for Research on Population and Health at the American University of Beirut.

More details on her webpage.

Vasilis Vlachokyriakos

Vasilis Vlachokyriakos is a Reader of Human-Computer Interaction and Digital Civics at Open Lab, Newcastle University, School of Computing and the founder of Open Lab Athens. He has a background in Computing Science with a MSc (Hons) in Computer Security and Resilience and a PhD in HCI (E-Voting as a tool for Political Participation).

His current work centres on designing novel socio-technical infrastructures for civic participation through place-based, participatory and action-led research, aiming at the development of systems for cooperative decision-making and service provision (i.e., CSCW and PD research and practice).

More details on his webpage.

Pamela Briggs

Pamela holds a Chair in Applied Psychology at Northumbria University and is a Visiting Professor at Newcastle University.  She is a Co-Director of the UK’s Centre for Digital Citizens, a £9m collaboration between the Universities of Newcastle, Northumbria, Edinburgh and UCL.

Her work primarily addresses issues of identity, trust, privacy and security in new social media, focusing on digital inequality. In the last five years, she has secured over £2m in research funding, published over forty articles on digital behaviour, and worked with government and industry to generate social and business impact from this work. 

She is one of the founder members of the UK’s Research Institute in Sociotechnical Cybersecurity, funded by the National CyberSecurity Centre (NCSC) in association with UKRI’s Global Uncertainty Programme, and her most recent research awards address both usable and inclusive privacy and security.

More details on her webpage.

Kyle Montague

Kyle is an Associate Professor and co-lead of NorSC Lab at Northumbria University. His research spans a breadth of topics and domains with the unifying vision – to address critical social problems and challenges by designing and configuring digital technologies that empower individuals and marginalised communities. More specifically, my work seeks to democratise access to the tools and processes by which we provision technologies and services that shape society.

More details on his webpage.


Hugo Nicolau (Instituto Superior Técnico)
Kyle Montague (Northumbria University)
Markus Rohde (University of Siegen)
Alessio Del Bue (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)


DCitizens has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme, project call HORIZON-WIDERA-2021-ACCESS-03, Grant Agreement 101079116