Designers impact societies, cultures and the natural environment through design and decisions that influence design strategies. Understanding Design Ethics and the path to best practice is imperative, as the right design solution is not always a preconceived idea and requires evaluation and research. Integrating Design Ethics in the Curriculum and design pedagogy is fundamental for preparing students to navigate ethical challenges. The path through legislation, regulation and codes of conduct to promote ethical design and best practice is multilayered and requires a broader understanding of society, cultures and the concept of social well-being.

The Integration of Design Ethics in the Curriculum - Sheet1
Design Ethics Books @Shane Gryzko
The Integration of Design Ethics in the Curriculum - Sheet2
Ethical Design @ Shayna Hodkin

Purpose of Design / Design Ethics

Design ethics is about incorporating responsible choices in the design practice to benefit the individual user, the society and the natural environment. It is central to developing standards that influence the design strategies, mitigating the design purpose and recognizing the consequences of design on individual users. Design ethics is established on the requirements of Usability, Accessibility, Privacy, Transparency, User involvement, and Sustainability. Usability is the basic principle of ethical design, as ease of use, efficiency, safety, experience, and user satisfaction dictate the base requirements of design feasibility. Accessibility is a requirement for ethical design as it becomes vital to design accessible mediums for individuals with health conditions and physical impediments. Design ethics focuses on Privacy and Transparency; the United Nations Declarations of Human Rights describes Privacy and transparency as a fundamental human right that needs to be incorporated in design to express freedom of association, thought and expression and freedom from discrimination. User involvement and human-centric design are also indispensable to ethical practice, as understanding user and task requirements is imperative for design feasibility. Finally, Sustainability is decisive and fundamental to Design ethics, as it is our moral responsibility to preserve and value our resources and the natural environment. 

The Integration of Design Ethics in the Curriculum - Sheet3
Design Ethics Books @ Brian Xiao

Curriculum and Design Pedagogy

The role and impact of design in society motivate the inclusion of topics of Design ethics in the curriculum and teaching programs; such pedagogical methods support learning and teaching of ethical design to create sustainable and ideal societies. Design students must learn ethical principles through the curriculum and teaching programs to progress into professional practice. Their purpose as a designer is to meet the needs and requirements of the users with dignity and respect, and their work must contribute to the well-being of, primarily concerning, the health and safety of the public. The Institution and curriculum must promote design ethics to communicate the importance of the client user, stakeholders and all audiences, particularly the elderly and physically challenged. It is in ethical practice to uphold the credibility and dignity of the profession by practising transparency, flexibility, and support to promote trade, education, culture, and greater awareness. Integrating Design Ethics in the Curriculum and teaching programs creates a practice model with efforts directed towards education, health and safety, and technological development to serve the global population. 

Pyramid of Ethical decision making @ Alasdair Ben Dixon & Carys Rowlands

Design Ethics and Practice 

Design Ethics in the Curriculum and teaching programs is essential for developing professional practice and design feasibility. Ethical practice is regarded as the best practice as it is the final stage of design that is guided by regulations and codes of conduct. In this process of defining practice, we must also acknowledge that we develop cultures that we nurture within our societies, and so the idea of ethics becomes objective, and we must align with the ethical codes that govern our practice. It is also imperative to realize that following the principles of conduct and the clients’ interest can become unethical and controversial; the legal and approved practice often becomes unfavourable for many people and the ecology. The ethical designer striving to create the ideal world to serve individuals often struggles with personal and institutional gains that project detrimental practice. It is always important to become aware of the consequences of our actions, and this responsibility and advocacy must be reflected in our decisions and professional practice. We must retort to the negative impacts of design on society and the environment; our credibility, values and Design Ethics should lead to progressive engagements for advancement and sustainability.

Ethics, Pledge to Goodness

Design Ethics promotes a foundation of knowledge, discipline and code of conduct to create a guideline that results in best practice. Integrating Design Ethics through a legal framework, codes of conduct, technology and professional studies should be widely incorporated into the Curriculum and teaching programs. The advancement of design requires a framework of design ethics that needs to become generic and better defined through technology and a curriculum of knowledgeable disposition. The predicament of moral decisions seems apposite to our core values of ethical design, and we may fail to find a distinctive definition of our pledge to goodness; however, ethics must remain central to design decisions to promote well-being and a sustainable future.


Ethics for designers (no date) Ethics for Designers. Available at: (Accessed: 17 September 2023). 

  1. Bump, P. (2020) The ‘ethics’ you didn’t know existed in design, HubSpot Blog. Available at: (Accessed: 17 September 2023). 
  2. Sgarro, V. (2018) What exactly does it mean to call for ‘Ethics in design’?, Slate Magazine. Available at: (Accessed: 17 September 2023). 
  3. Bowers, M. (2019) The Higher Ground – A Guide to Design Ethics: Toptal®, Toptal Design Blog. Available at: (Accessed: 17 September 2023). 
  4. Nag, G. (2023) Ethical design: A practical manifesto; in progress, NetBramha Studios – User Experience Design. Available at:,a%20design%20system%20%E2%80%9Cethical%E2%80%9D. (Accessed: 17 September 2023). 
  5. Nini, P.J. (2020) Threading Ethics in a design curriculum, Medium. Available at: (Accessed: 17 September 2023). 
  6. Dixon, A.B. (no date) How to spot an ethical dilemma – and what to do about it, RIBAJ. Available at: (Accessed: 17 September 2023). 

"I am Pravas Onta, writer, thinker and designer. I went to Architecture school in New York and I am currently trying to become a part of the ARB. I have over 5 years’ experience in design, construction and engineering. I believe in hard-work, organization and mutual support."