vsd project photos


We are designers and researchers, thinkers and doers. We design toolkits and methods. We work on theory and practice. Throughout, we engage human values in the design of tools and technology to support human flourishing. Our lab is a gathering place—we welcome conversation and dialog, questions and new ideas.


Tools and technologies are fundamental to the human condition. They constitute the infrastructure through which people from diverse communities and nations engage in dialog, educate their children, gain access to resources and systems of justice, conduct business, participate in government, and any number of other activities at the core of human society. At stake is no less than what people in their specific localities and societies experience as fair, as caring, as intimate or personal, as dignity, as property, as community, and so the list goes on. Such tools and technologies are the result of human imagination. Yet, with our limited view, it is not at all obvious how to design tools and technology so that they are more likely to support the actions, relationships, institutions, and experiences that human beings care deeply about.

Pioneered in the 1990s, value sensitive design seeks to provide theory and method to account for human values in a principled and systematic manner throughout the design process. Central to this approach is engaging our moral and technical imaginations.


About Designing Tech Policy: Instructional Case Studies for Technologists and Policy Makers

The UW Tech Policy Instructional Case Studies position students to consider the deeply interactional processes of human values and technology. Within pedagogical bounds, students engage both technical and policy elements and develop design solutions. For instructors, the instructional case studies have been written so that they can be revised and re-used for varied educational settings. Topics include: personal drones, IoT in smart homes, the sharing economy, and workforce management.

About On the Steppe: Plain Talk Imagining Technology Used Wisely

The Value Sensitive Design Lab and the UW Tech Policy Lab and the Methow Valley radio station KTRT 97.5 FM “The Root” are pleased to present, On the Steppe, a radio series on designing and using technology wisely. In these conversations, UW Information School Professor Batya Friedman and KTRT Radio Program Manager Don Ashford think about how we shape technology, how technology shapes us, and how we can grow our moral and technical imaginations. Join them in these conversations!


For the definitive account of the state of the art in value sensitive design, see the 2019 MIT Press book, Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral and Technical Imagination.