Dr Danielle Barrios-O’Neill is a groundbreaking scholar in the field of experimental education, recognised for her work developing novel post-disciplinary methods of advanced serious play for societal change.
Dr Barrios-O’Neill is the Head of MA Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art. Students in this programme design of experiences of information in quantifiable and unquantifiable forms, using extremely diverse platforms and media. Danielle’s leadership of the programme and within the college are inspired by the depth of complexity endemic in our world and the need for better ways to change systems for the better. She has led a large number of research groups, projects, partnerships and exhibitions related to this area over the last six years.
Danielle's research on systems approaches to complexity in the creative arts, tech and the environment have been published in journals including Convergence, Textual Practice and Futures.
She is currently completing a book with Palgrave Macmillan titled Systems Play, which develops a novel theory and approach to engaging humans with complexity and multispecies resilience by taking unconventional experimental perspectives.
She completed her PhD at Ulster University, investigating the power and practice of creative experimentation in societal transitions with a focus on post-conflict Belfast. She previously led the Environmental Futures Research Programme at Falmouth University.
As an experience designer, Danielle has explored environmental experience and creative engagement in a variety of contexts, including through game simulation, virtual and augmented reality, multiplatform and audio, and designing pervasive games for urban spaces. In all cases, her work is motivated by a desire to meet social and often global challenges by rendering unconventional, meaningful experiences of human existence within larger living networks.
Danielle has managed projects with a number of public and private sector organisations with interest in these areas, serving as Principal Investigator on RKEI projects in immersive experience design, education and public engagement.
Principal Investigator, Project funding, “Luminous: Interactive and Immersive Experience Design” Funder: LG Display. 2021.
Principal Investigator, Project funding, “Communities of Creative Survival: Live Simulation to Generate Grassroots Insight for Net Zero Policy.” Funder: British Academy, Shared Understandings of a Sustainable Future. 2022.
Research secondment, “Online Engagement for Sustainable Energy Projects” (B9 Energy Group). 2014.
Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellowship (Ulster University). 2008.
Current and recent projects
Luminous with LG Display
In this research and knowledge exchange project partnered with LG Display, students of Information Experience Design participated in a 12-week design competition, centring on a brief requiring the generation of “transformative experiences of information” to “challenge or disrupt perspective”. The competition culminated in an exhibition at Old Street Gallery, and following this, selected artists were invited to LG’s research headquarters in Seoul. A forthcoming publication discusses the symbiotic potential of international partnerships between technology companies and experimental artists, and examines limitations related to IP and diverging aims and values.
Post-Anthropocentric Design (PAD) Lab
PADLab is a research laboratory and creative workshop, developed at the RCA and partnered with Shenkar College of Art in Tel Aviv, created as a research and practice testbed for changing human-centred perspectives through practical, accessible design-led interventions. PADLab acts as a platform for communication and collaboration between designers, researchers and policymakers and is designed to continuously strive for balance between creative and speculative work and fact-driven research and hypotheses. A forthcoming publication examines the value of multispecies collaboration and inter-species perspective-taking, specifically as a mode of destabilising existing paradigms to enable more adaptive and resilient decision-making.
Publications, exhibitions, other outcomes
Barrios-O’Neill, D., Ramirez-Figueroa, C., Jarvis, C., Dudek, L., Ben-Meir, N.B., Falomo, E., Pauzner, M. and Kutok, O. (2023). “Systems Play: Using Experimental Art and Design Methods to Empower Systems Change.” [submitted, under review]
Barrios-O’Neill, D., Ribul, M., Pisapia, C.T., Yan, Y., Rungta, D., Selby, L., Ren, X., Quintana, C., Morrow, R., and Baurley, S. (2023). “Learning by Transforming: Widening Access to Complex Circular Economy Science using Experimental Design.” [submitted, under review]
Barrios-O’Neill, D., Pakalkaite, J. (2022). “Exploring Next-Generation Touch-Rich Interactions for Consumer Well-Being.” Proceedings of EVA London 2022.
Barrios-O’Neill, D., Hook, A. (2021). “Invisible Belfast: Flat ontologies and remediation of the post-conflict city.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 27.1: 212-228.
Brereton, P., Barrios-O’Neill, D. (2021). “Irish energy landscapes on film.” Journal of Environmental Media 2.1: 101-115.
Barrios-O’Neill, D. (2019). “Teaching Ciaran Carson: Classroom Approaches to the Post-Digital, Conflict-Zone Text.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 19.3: 483-507.
Hook, A., Barrios-O'Neill, D., & Mairs Dyer, J. (2019). Una Topología Transmedia De Making A Murderer. In N.
Golubov (Ed.), TV Ficciones: Reflexiones Criticas Sobre Television Estadunide (pp. 67-93). UNAM Press.
Barrios-O’Neill, D., Collins, M.J. (2018). “At Home with the Weird: Dark Eco-Discourse in Tanis and Welcome to Night Vale.” Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 1.3: 35-54.
Barrios-O’Neill, D. (2018). “Wild Listening: Ecology of a Science Podcast.” In Podcasting: New Aural Cultures and Digital Media. Llinares, D., Fox, N., Berry, R. (Eds.) Palgrave Macmillan.
Barrios-O’Neill, D. (2017). “Chaotics and the Post-digital in Ciaran Carson’s Exchange Place.” Textual Practice 31.7” 1417-1434.
Hook, A., Barrios-O'Neill, D., Dyer, J.M. (2016). "A transmedia topology of Making a Murderer." VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture 5.10.
Barrios-O’Neill, D., Hook, A. (2016). “Future Energy Networks & the Role of Interactive Gaming as Simulation.” Futures: Interdisciplinary Study of Futures, Anticipation and Foresight 81: 119-129.
Barrios-O’Neill, D. (2016). “Rewilding Form: Recent Approaches to Complexity in Literary Studies.” Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 18.2: 282-290.
Barrios-O’Neill, D., Schuitema, G. (2015). “Online Engagement for Sustainable Energy Projects: a Systematic Review and Framework for Integration.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54: 1611-1621.
(2023) Keynote Lecture, “Inner Systems Change: Why We Should Experiment with Our Humanity.” Earth Rising Festival. Irish Museum of Modern Art.
(2023-present) Member, Editorial Board, Pedagogy. Duke University Press.
(2023-present) Reviewer, Knowledge Frontiers Funding Scheme. British Academy.
(2023-present) Member, External Reference Group on Net Zero Policy. British Academy.
(2023) Director, Summer School: Interspecies Co-Design. Royal College of Art.
(2023) Presenter, “Developing Creative Pedagogic Practice”. CHEAD.
(2023) Facilitator, “Designing Resilient Futures” Workshop. British Academy / Royal College of Art.
(2022) Facilitator, “Post-Anthropocentric Design” Workshop (PADLab). Royal College of Art / Shenkar.
(2022) Presenter, “Navigating Wicked Futures through More-than-Human Perspectives: Experiments in Design Education.” SDN Research Summit – Counterparts. Zurich: Swiss Design Network / Zurich University of the Arts.
(2022) Presenter, “Navigating Wicked Futures through More-than-Human Perspectives: Experiments in Design Education.” RSD11: Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD) Symposium 11. Systemic Design Association / University of Brighton.
(2020-2022) Lead, Alterities Research Group. Royal College of Art.
(2020-2021) Chair, Expanded Museum Committee. Royal College of Art.
(2019-2020) Lead, Environmental Futures Research Programme. Falmouth University.
(2019) Panellist, “Cornwall as a Living Lab.” Falmouth University / Cornwall Council.
(2019-2020) Member, REF Advisory Committee. Falmouth University.
(2018) Presenter, “Wild Listening: Ecology of a Science Podcast”. The Podcast: Forms, Functions, Futures— An International Symposium. Johannes Gutenberg Universitat Mainz.
(2017) Presenter, “Immersion and Playspace in Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and Emma Donaghue’s Room.” American Conference for Irish Studies / Georgetown University.
(2016) Writer / Presenter. Invisible Belfast. BBC Radio 4. [radio documentary].
(2015) Presenter, “Future Energy Networks and the Role of Interactive Gaming as Simulation”. Renewable Futures Conference / RIXC Riga.
(2015) Presenter, “Social networks and the energy landscape: Toward a dynamic communications model”. Energy Landscapes Conference: Perception, Planning, Participation and Power. Landscape Research Group, Dresden.
(2014) Presenter, “Stakeholder Engagement for Renewable Energy: A Dynamic Engagement System.” Northern Ireland Energy Forum.