Codesigning with youth in Kosovo


CODE and the United Nations Development Programm (UNDP) have engaged in a promising collaboration. We share the ambition to nurture the creativity, innovativeness and collaborative attitude of all citizens interested in achieving change.

“Codesigning with youth in Kosovo” (2015) is the first project that prototypes the appliance of codesign methodologies (collaborative design research activities) within UN in Kosovo together with local students of University of Pristina and young people of Kosovo. This is done through a series of events, films and everyday stories that may help connecting the personal life of the youths with the abstract and general societal challenges of the region, marked by the previous war.

According to the UN, youth in Kosovo face serious challenges in participating in the public life. It specially manifests itself in: Young people are not part of public discussions. Young people’s voice is not heard in policy-making or decisions-making. Young people are discouraged to participate in public life. Young people’s concerns remain in informal spaces and are not addressed by the institutions.


We used a qualitative approach. What do these UN challenges actually mean in the context of the everyday? Through collaborative research activities grounded in the lived everyday life of youth in Kosovo, we sought to transform these intangible challenges into concrete and actionable ideas.

In a constructive opposition to the traditional ‘development gaze’ of ‘the blank canvas’ ready to be developed, the three recommendations below outline the qualitative approach applied in this project specifically focusing on what is already there.

Start with the concrete. Not with generalisations!

Youth engagement is an abstract term that have endless interpretations, but often we do not really know what it means. We need concrete examples to support a dialogue – stories about protesting at the university, blogging about activites in Gjilan/Gnjilane or starting up an arts center.

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Gather around concerns and aspirations. Segments don’t exist!

When inviting people to participate, the invitation needs to resonate with their lived everyday. Somthing has to be at stake as a reason to engage. Categories like ’young’ does not necessarily resonate among young people as something to identify with, but concrete concerns and aspirations like a closed down cinema in Gjilan/Gnjilane does.


Work from wat is already there. Not from what is missing!

This project shows that youth in Kosovo are engaged in their society in various ways. But the engagements do not necessarily correspond with a UN understanding of engagement such as a public discussion or decision-making process. Engaging in collaborations is a way to work around what might seem missing from an outside perspective, and attune to the relevant and locally anchored things alredy going on.


Maria Søbroe

1988 / Denmark
Rasmus Michaëlis

1988 / Denmark
Toke Frello

1988 / Denmark








About Eva Brandt

Eva Brandt is Professor in Social Design at Design School Kolding since May 2019. Before she was professor (MSO) at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, and holds a Ph.D from 2001. Eva is scientific leader of the Lab for Social Design. Previously she was co-leading the Center for Research in Codesign (CODE). Since September 2014 she has been part of the main faculty for a two year international MA-program in codesign. The main part of her research is about how designers can stage open design processes (design labs) with many participants who both can inquire into existing practices and explore possible futures in common. She also contributes to theorizing about experimental design research driven by programs and experiments. She has been contributing to several books such as Design Spaces (IT Press, 2005), Rehearsing the Future (The Danish Design School Press, 2010), XLAB (The Danish Design School Press, 2011), Facilitating Change – Using Interactive Methods in Organizations, Communities and Networks (Polyteknisk Forlag, 2011), and Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design (Routledge, 2013). Eva has been chairing the Nordic Design Research Conference in 2013.