Call for Problems: Social Design

Klaas Kuitenbrouwer of The New Institute, André Schaminée of Twynstra Gudde and the social designer Tabo Goudswaard are conducting a public study with the Doen Foundation into the use of social design for tackling tough problems. They are looking for people and organisations that regard themselves as the owners of “wicked problems”.
The researchers are looking specifically for social problems. Stubborn problems. Problems that won't go away. Social problems requiring behavioural change. Problems for which no solution can be found, no matter how you look at them. Think of complex problems like obesity, demographic decline and early school leaving.

Who is this call meant for?

This call is aimed at governments, businesses and other organisations that play a public or partly public role, regard themselves as owners of difficult social problems, and need a new perspective for action. They are invited to send in their problems for a chance to become acquainted with the social design approach in an experimental setting.

Why might this be helpful?

In recent years, we have seen how so-called social designers can have an impact on complex problems. These specialised artists and designers are succeeding in using completely different points of view and ways of working to find unexpected angles of approach for public and private organisations. They have helped to generate new hope around apparently intractable difficulties, involve new stakeholders, and uncover new prospects for concrete action.  

The researchers seek to boost the visibility of the social design approach. They also wish to increase knowledge about social design’s objectives, instruments and methods and to enable its use by larger groups of problem owners, designers and artists. 

What are we going to do?

After intake interviews, we will make a selection from among the submitted problems. A specially assembled design team will then work with each problem owner from September through December. The interim and final results will be discussed in public meetings, at which problem owners will be able to apply the new way of working in a hands-on manner. Leading social designers and organisational consultants will provide expert guidance during the process.


An application form containing a few questions and information on the terms of participation is available at The submission deadline is 28 June 2013. 

For more information, please contact project manager Tabo Goudswaard (, André Schaminée at Twynstra Gudde (, or Klaas Kuitenbrouwer at The New Institute (