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Speaker Series Explores Intersection of Design and Social Justice

May 18, 2021   |   DCAL

Dartmouth welcomed special guests and design thinking practitioners Lesley-Ann Noel and Tania Anaissie as part of a "Design Justice" speaker series co-organized by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) and the Design Initiative at Dartmouth (DIAD). DIAD is a new cross-campus initiative that aims to build design thinking capacity and integrate design principles and methodologies across the curriculum and community at Dartmouth.

"It’s really exciting to bring the voices of these amazing thought leaders to campus. I’m looking forward to organizing more programming at the intersection of design and social justice in the future."

Engineering professor Eugene Korsunskiy, Co-Director of DIAD

Lesley-Ann Noel led the Dartmouth community in a virtual "talk-shop" on critical design thinking.

Critical Design Thinking with Lesley-Ann Noel

Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel is Associate Director for Design Thinking for Social Impact and Professor of Practice at the The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University. Her work focuses on critical design thinking, using and developing methods that center the experiences of people who are often excluded from research. In her work, she aims to build greater critical awareness among designers and design students and use creativity to shift power.

In her interactive session titled "Teaching and Practicing Design Through a Critical Lens" Noel engaged an audience of 30 students, faculty, and staff in a series of reflections on identity, power, and social impact using tools of empowerment education and Critical Utopian Action Research. Participants explored Dr. Noel's "Designer's Critical Alphabet," a card deck and digital app that ties concepts of critical theory to design practice and helps designers engage with difference and shift power. The session closed with a brainstorming activity to envision a more inclusive, sustainable, equitable, and responsible future for design and education.

Session Resources

Liberatory Design with Tania Anaissie

Tania Anaissie is the Founder and CEO of Beytna Design, an equity design firm that supports social sector leaders to actualize their commitment to equity. She is a Founding Creator of Liberatory Design, Founding Member of the Equity Design Collaborative, faculty at the National Equity Project, and a former Lecturer at the Stanford University d.school.

In her work, Anaissie asks, "What is the role of a designer in an oppressive society? How can we partner with experts with lived experience in a way that is authentic? How can we foster innovation without creating harm to communities traditionally marginalized by systems of oppression?"

Anaissie's session, "(Re)Design for Liberation," dissected elements of design thinking that uphold injustice, and asked participants to consider a rebuilt design approach rooted in liberation values. The 50 students, faculty, and staff who attended engaged with the mindsets and modes of liberatory design using the "Liberatory Design Deck," a tool designed by Anaissie and collaborators to promote the habits and conditions necessary for justice and equality. Liberatory Design is the result of a collaboration between Tania Anaissie, David Clifford, Susie Wise, and the National Equity Project (Victor Cary and Tom Malarkey).

Session Resources

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