The project

curated by Maurizio Viroli and Gianni Sinni

The decline of civic consciousness – understood as the awareness of one’s rights and duties – is a fact largely documented in literature that is of concern to the more serious cultural and educational institutions. Not only do an increasing number of citizens in democratic countries display a dangerous indifference to the duties of loyalty, solidarity and commitment emblematic of a mature civil consciousness, there are no projects to train teachers of civic education.

This is a decline that could undermine the very basis of the democratic relationship that binds the citizen to the institutions, the origins of which may be found in the profound transformation that words such as politics, participation, competence, solidarity are undergoing in their meaning. Furthermore, even the more traditional instruments of analysis struggle to interpret this situation. A problem this complex, that raises cultural, economic, social and technological issues, can only be addressed with an innovative approach that brings to the table all the tools of design and interpretation that the various disciplines can contribute. This is the principle of consilience, a convergence of multidisciplinary research and projects, that draws greater strength and capacity for action from the diverse points of view and the different methodologies from which they originate. The conference Designing Civic Consciousness, curated by University of San Marino, therefore gathers philosophers, historians and designers who share a determination to give their contribution to defining “civic education” practices, relying on the tools of thought and design.

Design has always developed a keen awareness of the social consequences involved in the development of projects and the sustainability of products and communication. Many are the appeals and manifestos in recent decades, especially in times of crisis, that have called attention to the need for designers to consider the social and hence “political” responsibility of a professional category dedicated to design. Today, as institutions and the very concept of democracy as we have grown to understand it are facing a future of deep crisis, it has become all the more urgent for designers to be trained to shape their design contribution in a conscious and well-informed manner.

An academic curriculum that promotes “design for social innovation”, with design practices geared towards the community and the public sector – service design, design thinking, open source, user experience design, civic hacking, etc. – thus becomes an essential measure in dealing with the complexity of the current crisis.


The format of the conference will include two major events every day in which a philosopher will alternate with a designer, to be followed by a workshop involving a select group of students from Unirsm and other Italian universities.


Alessandra Bosco | Massimo Brignoni | Luciano Canfora | Corrado Petrocelli | Elizabeth Resnick | Gianni Sinni | Riccardo Varini | Maurizio Viroli | Michele Zannoni