Digital Civics and User Experience Design

Digital Civics and User Experience Design 

Click HERE to enroll in this program!


Technology not only drives global communication across vast distances and contexts, but is also vital to the sustainment of community resources and the interaction among people that live in a specific geographic context. While some technological tools can effectively be used across multiple contexts and cultures, there are a wide range of social challenges that require more customized efforts to meet local challenges. In the past decade, community informatics has emerged as an interdisciplinary field that is focused on solving local problems through the use of information communication technologies (ICTs). This field represents an area of applied investigation and practice that requires the designer to have knowledge of local issues, stakeholders, and unique characteristics of technology use across a particular geographic context.

In this study abroad program, students will engage in local community informatics projects that have relevance to the urban center of Newcastle upon Tyne, located in North East England. This program will offer students a unique opportunity to work with world-established leaders in digital civics located at Open Lab, Newcastle University. This program is unique in offering a wide range of inter- and multi-disciplinary experiences that engage with the local target community in England. Students will explore engagement opportunities with local and regional stakeholders in a wide variety of application contexts, including existing strands such as healthcare, education, transport, and social care. The primary language will be English, and Open Lab at Newcastle University has agreed to provide on-campus meeting and design space during the study abroad engagement. No exchange or credit will be provided from Newcastle University as part of the program.

Participants will work alongside members of an internationally-diverse Digital Civics research lab and MS/PhD program at Open Lab, Newcastle University. As part of this arrangement, students will engage with active lab projects and use their skills in User Experience (UX) design, user research, and/or technical knowledge to contribute to one or more projects. Where possible, students will be engaged in interactions with local stakeholders through workshops, interviews, and other forms of user research or co-design.


You will be eligible to receive three credits through the following courses:

Undergraduate: CGT 390-00: UXD Experience Studio III: Digital Civics in the United Kingdom

Graduate: CGT 572-00: Digital Civics and User Experience Design

For UX Design majors, this experience can count as either a semester of Experience Studio or a Globalization selective.


The estimated program cost is $2,300, including the study abroad fee, program fee, insurance, and airfare. This rate is subject to change, and will be finalized by January 2019. This rate excludes most meals and other personal expenses (e.g., passport fees).


Preliminary Itinerary

This itinerary is subject to change based on project requirements and the input of student participants. Once our attendee list is finalized, we plan to co-design the specific aspects of this study abroad experience with all stakeholders, modeling the digital civics and user-centered approaches students will use in the United Kingdom.

Sunday, May 12th

          Travel to Edinburgh

Monday, May 13th

          Arrive in Edinburgh

          Travel to Newcastle

          17:00 Program-included dinner 

Tuesday, May 14th 

          10:00 Project orientation and assignment to project groups 

          13:00 Orientation, health and safety briefings, and picking up guest passes 

          17:00 Meet and greet and dinner w/Open Lab at Bealim House
          ( ). 

Wednesday, May 15 - Friday, May 17th 

          Work sessions in project teams. A minimum of four hours of engagement in project work each day, but these activities may be flexible based on project requirements (e.g., development  support, user research or workshops within the city, project meetings). 

Saturday, May 18th 

          Travel to Durham 

          10:00 Tour of Durham Cathedral 

          12:00 Lunch in Durham 

          13:30 Durham Castle tour 

          Return to Newcastle 

          TBD Walking tour of Newcastle in the evening 

Sunday, May 19th 

          Free time at the coast 

Monday, May 20th - Wednesday, May 22nd 

          Work sessions in project teams. A minimum of four hours of engagement in project work each day, but these activities may be flexible based on project requirements (e.g., development support, user research or workshops within the city, project meetings). 

Thursday, May 23rd 

          Final project handover and presentations. 

          Program-included dinner and farewell to Open Lab personnel at the pub 

Friday, May 24th 

          Travel to Edinburgh 

          1:00 Edinburgh Castle 

          4:00 Free time in downtown Edinburgh 

Saturday, May 25th 

          8:45 Day bus tour to Stirling Castle 

Sunday, May 26th 

          TBD Hike to Arthur’s Seat (optional, and weather-dependent) 

Monday, May 27th

          Travel to U.S.


Contact program leader Colin Gray via email with your questions. 

Department Location Duration Professor
Computer Graphics Technology England Maymester Colin Gray