Term: Winter 2023
Section: 1
Class Number: 503
Credits: 3
Required: No
Elective: Yes

/ ARCH 503

Design Justice

Throughout their histories, design practices have advanced the imperatives of racial capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and other systems of exploitation and oppression. In response to these histories, increasing attention is being paid to “design justice”: a practice of design that contributes to undoing these systems and/or ameliorating the social suffering and inequality that these systems yield. At the same time, however, design justice is often equated with already-existing values like “equity” and “inclusion,” practices like “collaboration” and “facilitation,” and dispositions like “empathy,” raising questions about what new perspectives and actions design justice makes possible. How to think about injustice in ways that include injustice’s systemic and normalized versions? How to think about justice in ways that include justice’s reparative and redistributive versions? How to think about social suffering, oppression, and need without identifying communities with the damage inflicted on them? How to think about participation in ways that support community agency, desire, and self-determination? How to think about social change through collective care and mutual aid rather than scalability? And how to bring questions like the preceding to bear on the imagination, interpretation, and practice of design? In this seminar, we will explore these questions through reflections on topics like allyship, solidarity and empathy; decolonization, anti-colonialism, and anti-racism; vulnerability and resilience; de-professionalization and activism; and reciprocal healing and co-liberation. As claims of injustice and justice are mediated through textual forms, this seminar will intensively focus on writing, exploring various modes of writing as ways to reflect on, critique, and advance the work of justice in design. In so doing, we will seek to move discussions of design justice beyond the lists of principles that currently define it into more reflective, generative, critical, and self-aware forms of expression and intent. 


Tue 2:30-5:30pm  1360 A&AB


Andrew Herscher