Toby Whelan, Degree Project Report

MFA in Interaction Design

Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden

<aside> 📄 A PDF version of this report is available here.



We're witnessing a worldwide movement of children engaging in activism and driving real change. More than ever, young people are raising their voices and campaigning on social, environmental and political issues that they care about. No longer passive ‘adults in waiting’, children are seizing the moment to take action and re-shape the world of tomorrow.

I find the current generation of children incredibly inspiring. Their openness, imagination and optimism should be an example for us all. The adult-to-child model of education should be inverted. That one Swedish teenager has captured the attention of the world is humbling. They’ve raised their voices and made it clear that for human life on Earth to continue, we all need to make big changes. I believe that investing in the people that will build our future society is the best bet for its existence.

This project is an exploration of how design can help these children to empower themselves. The result, Agents of Action, is an activist project platform, guiding children through the activities of an 'activism sprint' to make change happen.

Photo: Callum Shaw

Photo: Callum Shaw

01. Background

Research Question

How could we platform children’s activism to inspire advocacy, foster learning and help make change happen?

This could manifest as something:

Children are often less able than adults to leverage power through striking, boycotting or making lifestyle and purchasing decisions. In this landscape, how could we give children greater agency to empower themselves?