5.2 Presentation Outline

In this outline, Open Education Instructional Designer Veronica Vold summarizes key themes and claims from the keynote presentation. It is intended to orient future participants to the presentation video recording on the next page and to capture the speaker’s major questions for the open education community in Oregon.

Outline for Design Justice and Design Pedagogies

Dr. Sasha Costanza-Chock’s highly interactive presentation is organized into five parts:

Part 1: Design Justice: Theory & Practice
Part 2: DJN Principles & Design Pedagogy
Part 3: Visioning Exercise
Part 4: Share Back & Discussion
Part 5: Open Discussion

Part 1: Design Justice: Theory & Practice

Sasha studies how sociotechnical systems can challenge but also can reproduce various forms of inequality.

  • Sasha’s participatory design experiences include:
    • In early 2000s, working with Indymedia, the Global Independent Media Centre Network of radical journalists working for social movements
    • Working with immigrant rights movement in Los Angeles on VozMob, a mobile blogging platform co-designed with day laborers and household workers
    • Co-leading MIT Center for Civic Media and teaching a collaborative design studio for a decade
    • Serving on Board of Allied Media Project to build a community of practice around media culture, technology, and community organizing
      • Allied Media Conference connected Sasha to Design Justice Network
  • Design Justice synthesizes their learning and conversations in the Design Justice Network
    • The verb “design” comes from the Latin phrase “to mark out” and evolved in French to mean signify, designate, or signal
    • It’s still used today to mean to sketch or draw out representations that become objects, buildings, softwares, or systems, or services
    • Design means many things: a plan for a building or system, a textile pattern for beautiful floral print, composition of art, the shape of an object, or the practice of design work (ex: “Icelandic design dominates global furniture markets”)
    • Victor Papanek positions design as a universal practice in human communities:
      • “All [people] are designers. Design is the conscious effort to impose a meaningful order.”
    • Design is about envisioning and changing the future: we propose, predict, and advocate for (or warn against) various visions of the future
    • Arturo Escobar sees design as an ethical praxis of world-making
      • design practices today erase indigenous worldviews, forms of knowledge, and ways of being
      • calls for a design approach of a pluriverse, or the creation of a world “where many worlds fit”
        • This is a Zapatista slogan to move beyond the systems that lead to ecological collapse
        • Inspired subtitle of Sasha’s book “community-led practices to build the worlds we need”
    • Design justice raises a set of questions that apply to all these multiple meanings of design
      • Design justice is a framework for analysis: how does design distribute benefits and burdens between various groups of people?
      • Design justice focuses explicitly on how design reproduces and/or challenges the matrix of domination:
        • white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, settler colonialism, and other forms of structural inequality
        • Patricia Hill Collins develops this conceptual model in Black Feminist Thought to refer to interlocking systems of oppression: race, class, and gender
        • Helps us to think about power, oppression, resistance, penalties, and privileges are systematically distributed
        • A mode of analysis for looking at systems of oppression that mutually constitute one another and shape our lives
        • Every individual simultaneously receives both benefits and harms, or penalties and privileges, based on our experience and location: we are simultaneously part of multiple dominant and subordinate groups
        • Each of us experience the affordances and disaffordances of objects, interfaces, or built environments
        • This operates at various scales: personal, interpersonal, community, and institutional

Part 2: DJN Principles & Design Pedagogy

Sasha’s book Design Justice explores relationships between design, power, inequality, and liberation. Chapters focus on various design themes: the values we reproduce, who controls different designs, the stories we tell about design problems, the sites where design happens and how to make them more accessible to those most impacted by design processes, as well as how these questions apply to educational institutions, curriculum, pedagogical processes.

  • This publication represents the hard work of the Design Justice Network (DJN), a network of people who challenge us to consider how good intentions aren’t enough to ensure we’re designing for liberation
  • Sasha review the 10 Principles of Design Justice that guide the DJN:
    1. We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities, as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.
    2. We center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process.
    3. We prioritize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.
    4. We view change as emergent from an accountable, accessible, and collaborative process, rather than as a point at the end of a process.
    5. We see the role of the designer as a facilitator rather than an expert.
    6. We believe that everyone is an expert based on their own lived experience, and that we all have unique and brilliant contributions to bring to a design process.
    7. We share design knowledge and tools with our communities.
    8. We work towards sustainable, community-led and -controlled outcomes.
    9. We work towards non-exploitative solutions that reconnect us to the earth and to each other
    10. Before seeking new design solutions, we look for what is already working at the community level. We honor and uplift traditional, indigenous, diasporic, and local knowledge and practices.
  • Sasha reads an excerpt from Chapter 5: Design Pedagogies: “There’s Something Wrong with This System!”
    • Several foundational quotes begin this chapter:
      • bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: “Critical pedagogy seeks to transform consciousness, to provide students with ways of knowing that enable them to know themselves better and live in the world more fully.”
      • W. E. B. Du Bois, The Talented Tenth: “I insist that the object of all true education is not to make [people] carpenters, it is to make carpenters [people].”
      • Ella Baker: “Oppressed people, whatever their level of formal education, have the ability to understand and interpret the world around them, to see the world for what it is, and move to transform it.”
    • Sasha’s MIT students co-designed with City Life/Vida Urbana (CL/VU), a Boston-area housing rights group
      • CL/VU was founded in 1973 for eviction defense, legal action, and group renegotiation with lenders, banks, and landlords, fighting the displacement of low-income people and the majority Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (B/I/PoC) from historic urban neighborhoods
      • Students co-designed with CL/VU a set of modified carnival games and a pamphlet that illustrate inequality in Boston-area housing markets
      • Students called out systems design errors that result in a woman and child being evicted and sleeping in a car for months

Part 3: Visioning Exercise: Design Justice Futures

Sasha leads two excellent collaborations in real time to engage in design justice:

  • First, they ask participants to take 60 seconds to write one short sentence about what brought them to work in pedagogy.
    • This helps participants to connect to their own stories and timelines and to those of others in the space.
    • People describe feeling lost but encountering a single professor who understood them and wanted to help, experiencing feminist curriculum design for the first time, having a graduate teaching assistant opportunity to design learning experiences for others, falling into design work without meaning to, and seeing summer readers receive books and seeing their hunger to learn
  • Sasha then leads a Miro board activity, asking: “What would it mean for educational institutions to support a community-based pedagogy of technology design? How will the future be transformed by a pedagogy of design justice?”
    • Sasha orients participants to Miro boards: groups will focus on one of the ten Design Principles
    • On each board, participants explore how design justice applies educational institutions in order to challenge, rather than reproduce, structural inequalities
    • The exercise activates imaginations and creates a shared vision to transcend the limitations of the current structure and practice
    • Step-by-Step Instructions:
      • Two members of each breakout room take on a role: a graphic notetaker to capture discussion in symbols and a sticky note annotator to describe them
      • Each breakout room member first introduces a design problem they are working on (ex: a new syllabus, an event flyer, a hire, or a community partnership)
      • Round 1: It is 2025. What does the design problem look like two years from now? How is it different from what you have now? Illustrate your response with graphic symbols and add sticky note annotations.
      • Round 2: It is 2050. Education as a whole is oriented to a design justice approach. How did everyone get here?
      • Round 3: It is 2222. Everyone’s needs are met. Open Educational Resources have played an important role in the just transition to a regenerative global economy and culture. What were some key events that led to this point?

Part 4: Share Back & Discussion

In a lightning round of share backs, groups give a one sentence report on main ideas. This exercise is intended to open radical futuring and visioning: How might choices we make today extend to larger shifts in the future?

  • Report out on Design Justice Principle 1: Design to sustain, heal, and empower as well as to seek liberation
    • Supported and accurate journalism is necessary to reach this goal
  • Report out on Design Justice Principle 2: Center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes
    • Redesigning an OER tutorial for faculty that could bring in faculty voices and experiences to have them design part of the tutorial to make it more useful for them
  • Report out on Design Justice Principle 3: Prioritize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.
    • Break down of paywalls for how information and knowledge is shared
  • Report out on Design Justice Principle 4: change is emergent from an accountable, accessible, and collaborative process, rather than as a point at the end
    • Ask administration to design action items in the next presentation rather than presenting as usual
  • Report out on Design Justice Principle 5: Role of the designer as a facilitator rather than expert
    • All institutional debt is forgiven and education is fully funded
    • Disability community received long-awaited services during the pandemic, but these things should remain to build deep accessibility and disability justice

Part 5: Open Discussion

  • Question for Sasha: What’s the best use of ChatGPT to support student learning right now? Sasha responds:
    • Learn and then teach students:
      • What is ChatGPT?
      • How does it function?
      • How is it set up?
      • What are its strengths and weaknesses?
    • We aren’t on the verge of artificial intelligence here: this is a sophisticated autocomplete trained on open web texts so it will reflect what it’s been trained on
    • Develop exercises to explore and learn about the strengths and weaknesses
    • If you play with it, you’ll see it produces a lot of inaccurate information: have students generate biographies of their favorite artists or explore something they know a lot about to see the limitations of the current system
    • Develop learning exercises to determine where it is useful
    • Don’t ban it, explore it
    • Learn about how it’s constructed, its limitations, and how to use it effectively in assignments

Licenses and Attributions

“Outline for Design Justice and Design Pedagogies” is adapted by Veronica Vold from “Design Justice and Design Pedagogies” by Sasha Costanza-Chock and is licensed CC BY-NC.


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Designing for Justice: An Open Education Speaker Series Copyright © by Veronica Vold is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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