Spaces and Interfaces: A Summer School on HCI for Well-being

© Matej Meza/Universität Bremen

Wednesday 28th — Friday 30th June 2023
Location: University of Bremen
Organised by UBremen and UCL
ACM SIGCHI Sponsored

“Spaces and Interfaces: A Summer School on HCI for Well-being” will be held at the University of Bremen between 28th-30th June 2023. PhD students are invited to apply to participate in workshops, lectures, and interactive seminars surrounding themes of HCI methods, well-being, artificial intelligence, and mixed reality.

Summer school venue: Cartesium building

Accommodation: 7Things Hotel
Check-in: 3pm or later
Check-out: until 11am

Rapid developments in computational sensing, processing, and learning are the source of excitement as well as trepidation. A challenge for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is to leverage these new technologies to enhance well-being, while navigating the complexities and sensitives of health and wellness. Hosted by the University of Bremen, this summer school will create a physical space for budding interaction PhD students in HCI to address this challenge over three days. Through learning, sharing, and socialising, the school hopes to foster new collaborations and perspectives within the era of digital well-being. 

“Conceptual Space”
Technological innovations create and outline new conceptual spaces, ripe for exploration by early-career researchers. Three renowned keynote speakers will introduce pioneering research endeavours with critical assessments of the current technological innovations and presenting ideas for thinking beyond. In interactive workshops, students will have the opportunity to conceptualise and craft new interactions, helping them to separate the genuine affordances of these new systems away from the hype.  With everyone responding to technological developments differently, students will have the chance to ask senior Professors of HCI from three different countries regarding this matter during a panel discussion. These developments will have professional consequences for early career researchers; students will also have the opportunity to discuss their career aspirations with the Professors from three different countries.

“Mental Space”
While presenting researchers with fertile conceptual territory, technologies can also afford users’ mental space to manage their lives and their minds. For instance, therapy chatbots and meditation applications are increasingly popular, helping people to carve out space for reflection, mindfulness, and emotional expression. Further, we use AI and graphical interfaces to plan and brainstorm, and impressive large language models, such as chatGPT, to explore, occupy and share these creative spaces. Students will participate in workshops focused on assessing such opportunities, and will be able to take part in decompression and relaxation activities inspired by digitally-enabled mental spaces, such as AI-guided yoga.

“Physical Space”
New technologies can directly implicate physical space, on top of conceptual and mental space. Mixed reality technologies allow the manifestation of new 3D spaces, as well as the manipulation of virtual objects in everyday spaces. When sharing these new environments with others we must translate our expectations of proximity, presence and gesture from one space to another. Students will have a chance to collectively create a VR world, documenting their experiences at the summer school through 3D expression. 

With social distancing (hopefully!) behind us, there is a need for HCI research to move outside the controlled, artificial spaces of laboratories, to embrace the complexity of research in-the-wild. The summer school will guide students through the challenges and opportunities of investigating interaction in real-life contexts, emphasising the need for longitudinal, interdisciplinary approaches in HCI research.
To accommodate and validate this interdisciplinary approach, HCI needs a peer-review system that can deliver rigour and constructive criticism with humility. Workshops will give students the tools to deal with negative reviews and rejection, while envisioning alternative approaches to peer-review.

Some core questions that we will explore in the summer school are:
How can we harness the capabilities of new AI technologies that will benefit society?
What are the new challenges facing people's health and well-being post pandemic?
How can we design technologies that help us in everyday lives by augmenting
our cognition and supporting our well-being by providing spaces that help
create, express, plan and reflect?
What are the ethical and social concerns of a society suffused in ever more
technology that monitors their health and well being?

Venue, Accommodation, Travels and Costs
The summer school will take place at the University of Bremen, Germany. There are no registration fees for participating in the summer school. Breakfast and lunch will be provided over the three days, as well as a welcome dinner on the first night of the summer school. Students coming from afar will be able to take free accommodation near the University. Participants will have to organise their own travel from and to the summer school. We will help to coordinate this. In case of funding emergencies, please reach out to us and we will try to find a suitable solution. Throughout the summer school there will be opportunities to explore different physical spaces, including the University of Bremen campus, the gothic city centre, and having a dive in a near-by lake.

Accommodation: Single rooms at the 7Things Hotel
Summer school venue: Cartesium building
The Cartesium building is only a 5 min walk away from 7Things Hotel.

The summer school is made possible by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy (EXC 2077, University of Bremen), and the ACM SIGCHI Development Fund.

Keynote Speakers​​​​​​​
Katherine Isbister (University of California)
Amid Ayobi (University College London)
Oren Zuckerman (Reichman University)

Organising Committee
Evropi Stefanidi (University of Bremen)
Nadine Wagener (University of Bremen)
Leon Reicherts (University College London)
Ava Scott (University College London)

Hosting Professors
Yvonne Rogers (University College London)
Rainer Malaka (University of Bremen)
Johannes Schöning (University of St. Gallen)

Supported and sponsored by:
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