A lecture series for design teachers, researchers, and students that shares feminist practices from within.
Education is inherently political. Feminist activists and pedagogues have taught us that education shapes what is considered to be “knowledge,” whose perspectives are amplified, and who gains access. Unfortunately, common design practice, its history, pedagogy, and institutions remain predominantly Western, white, privileged, cisgender, and able-bodied. By continuing to frame design as “apolitical” and “neutral,” these structures perpetuate colonial violence, emphasize hierarchy, reproduce exclusionary ideals of “quality,” and systemically exclude marginalized groups.
For educators and students working against these barriers, the road is fraught with institutional obstacles and discrimination as they engage in unpaid emotional and political labor within precarious circumstances. While trying—and often failing—to introduce change among our faculties, schools, and institutions, we feel isolated, lonely, demotivated, and even hopeless at times.
Design Educators Unite! provides a community to help each other face these challenges. This para-academic learning program is dedicated to critically exploring approaches to learning, teaching, and practicing design rooted in feminisms and social justice. This space fosters criticality, meaningful exchange, and support for design teachers, students, and researchers in the face of institutionalized discrimination.
From February to June 2024, seven online lectures and a roundtable discussion will share insights from within the classroom and education research. AUGE FADU, Cherrypye, Elizabeth Chin, Layla Gharib, Harper B. Keenan, Sloan Leo Cowan, Ramia Mazé, Clara Meliande, Nina Mühlemann, and Josefina Vidal will discuss how they bring disability justice into the classroom, tackle systemic discrimination in design institutions, challenge hegemonic narratives in design history, attempt to decolonize and depatriarchalize design curricula, and much more!
Each event will be followed by an open discussion, where you can pose direct questions to the lecturer and other participants from all over the world. All lectures will be available synchronously via Zoom and asynchronously as recordings on Vimeo.
You will also be invited to join the Futuress Slack platform to continue sharing and learning from others. Our Futuress Slack channel consists of participants from past and present Futuress learning programs, and is a growing community of designers, researchers, educators, and activists from all corners of the world.
- Start: February 22, 2024
- End: June 13, 2024
- 7 lectures and 1 roundtable discussion
- All events are available
a) synchronously via Zoom and
b) asynchronously as recordings on Vimeo
- Always at 6 pm CE(S)T
- Prices available on a sliding scale:
Solidarity: CHF 280
Standard: CHF 140
Student: CHF 70
BIPoC + Student: CHF 35
- Registrations are possible on a rolling basis!
At Futuress, we are committed to democratizing design education. By registering for this lecture series, you not only enter a transnational community centered around design politics, but you also support the work of commissioning, editing, and publishing original counter-narratives, and help to finance our free online learning program.
The lecture series is accessible through a sliding-scale price structure:
- Solidarity: CHF 280
- Standard: CHF 140
- Student: CHF 70
- BIPoC+Student: CHF 35
If you can afford it, please consider paying the solidarity price to support Futuress’ free learning and publishing program. For students with limited finances, particularly those self-identifying as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and majority world, we offer a BIPOC+ student price. We trust your honesty and do not require proof of self-identification for enrollment.REGISTER HERE
For institutions keen on facilitating their students’ and staff’s participation, we provide discounted passes. Should your institution express interest please contact email@example.com. We are more than happy to tailor an offer to your specific needs.
Feb 22 | 6 pm CET
Navigating the Past, Envisioning the Future: Unearthing Feminist and Decolonial Threads in Design Education
with Cherrypye (she/her) – Creator, Educator & Researcher
Clara Meliande (she/her) – Designer, Researcher & Educator
and Josefina Vidal (she/her) – Designer & Researcher
Mar 21 | 6 pm CET
Otherwise Realities: Communal Care, Decolonization, and The Design School
with Layla Gharib (she/her)
Designer, Researcher & Educator
Apr 4 | 6 pm CEST
Unmanageable Subjects: Trans Childhoods and Civic Learning in the Elementary Classroom
with Harper B. Keenan (he/him)
Educator, Learner, Writer & Scholar
Apr 11 | 6 pm CEST
Queering Design: Moving Towards Emergent Practices
with Sloan Leo Cowan (they/he)
Community Designer, Facilitator & Educator
May 2 | 6 pm CEST
Social Design Practices: From the Popular Neighborhoods to the Faculty of Design
with Giuliana Córdoba (she/none)
and Emilia Odriozola (she/her)
from the Student Movement Auge FADU
June 6 | 6 pm CEST
Feminist Killjoy Design Pedagogy: On Emphasizing Joy
with Elizabeth Chin (she/her)
Anthropologist & Ethnographer
Feb 22, 2024 | 6 pm CET | online | free | roundtable with Cherrypye, Clara Meliande & Josefina Vidal
The dominant history of design education has been shaped by institutions such as Bauhaus, Ulm School, the New Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and others—all of which are primarily located in Western Europe and North America. These schools have disseminated modernist ideas of universality, neutrality, and progress. Despite this prevailing narrative, numerous feminist and decolonial educational initiatives have emerged, challenging the hegemonic norms of design education and envisioning alternative approaches.
This roundtable discussion aims to bring together design educators, historians, and researchers to explore the histories of design education and practice spanning from Chile through Brazil and up to Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. The objective is to unearth counter-hegemonic threads within design education, shedding light on perspectives that have historically been marginalized. By delving into these stories from the past, the discussion reflects on potential learnings and possibilities for envisioning the future of design education, pedagogy, and practice. Through this exploration of counter-hegemonic narratives, the roundtable aims to inspire a reimagining of design education that is situated and horizontal and contributes to fostering social justice.
Mar 21, 2024 | 6 pm CET | online | lecture with Layla Gharib
This lecture highlights the outcomes of a workshop series facilitated at Sheffield Hallam University in 2022 and 2023 that focused on imagining design schools otherwise. Through collectively exploring decolonized, caring futures, the workshops explored the past, present, and future of design education, holding these three states in paradox and—rather than viewing them as opposing realities—allowing them to connect and interplay with one another. These glimpses into decolonized futures and otherwise realities centered on commitment to care, acknowledgment, and community dreaming.
Apr 4, 2024 | 6 pm CEST | online | lecture with Harper B. Keenan
Amid legislation banning discussions about gender and sexuality in classrooms, the US is embroiled in debates over the meaning of gender in civic life and education. Here, the conditions surrounding transgender youth in education make us question fundamentally the institutional regulation of childhood and the function of schooling. This lecture will look into how trans people are positioned as unmanageable subjects in K-12 schools in the United States. This phrase has an intentional double meaning, referencing 1) the treatment of transgender existence as a taboo topic and 2) the challenges trans children pose to the institutional regulation of gender. How might educators embrace unmanageability? What might it look like to practice education that resists rigidly scripting the world, including who children are allowed to be and become within it?
Apr 11, 2024 | 6 pm CEST | online | lecture with Sloan Leo Cowan
Through queering design, this lecture seeks new orientations of deliberately resisting normativity and forging alternative pathways and ways of practicing and being that attempt to disrupt prescriptive design methods. Queering design presents an opportunity to move away from the paternalistic approach of “designing for” past collaboration-oriented but not capacity-building ways of “designing with” to “designing by”—building the confidence and fluency of others to benefit and build collective power. It also aims to evolve the dialogue about design in a more divergent and unusual direction.
May 2, 2024 | 6 pm CEST | online | lecture with Auge FADU
Social design practices, developed by a student movement Auge FADU, serve as a tool to address design through a lens encompassing social, territorial, participatory, feminist, inclusive, and transdisciplinary perspectives in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan area of Argentina. Since 2021, each semester, Auge FADU has engaged in diverse pedagogical activities with students, graduates, and faculty from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires. In this lecture, the activists will discuss how these practices connect design education with the socio-political reality of the country through a transdisciplinary approach.
Highlighting projects developed over the years through participatory processes, they will explore the impact of involving diverse stakeholders in the very neighborhoods where these initiatives originate. This approach not only deepens students’ connections with local communities, but also breaks down existing prejudices against residents of popular neighborhoods. It simultaneously cultivates exchanges and collaborations between the community and design students.
This lecture will be conducted in Spanish with simultaneous interpretation provided.
May 23, 2024 | 6 pm CEST | online | lecture with Nina Mühlemann
For too long, creating access for disabled people has been regarded as a “checkbox” to tick off, and as a charitable move by those included towards those who are excluded. However, the practice of a multitude of disabled and chronically ill artists and activists shows that different approaches can be possible: The U.S. performance collective Sins Invalid is a disability justice-based performance project based on the principles of leaving “no body-mind behind” and of centering the knowledge and needs of those most marginalized. Disabled and chronically ill artists such as Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha (U.S.), the vacuum cleaner (U.K.), Sophia Neises (Germany) and Criptonite (Switzerland, the lecturer’s own theater collective) “crip” space and time, centering the needs of the disabled community in their work. This lecture gives a short overview of practices thatdream up utopias and center care and access as a collective responsibility.
June 6, 2024 | 6 pm CEST | online | lecture with Elizabeth Chin
As someone whose pedagogy and politics are deeply shaped by Black feminism, working in a design school frequently compels Elizabeth Chin to name the whiteness of the institution and its culture. Institutional whiteness is political, and also problematic. Furthermore, naming the whiteness becomes political, and also creates problems.
Drawing on Sarah Ahmed’s notions of the feminist killjoy and complaint, this lecture embraces the killjoy. Rejecting the idea of seeking “solutions,” instead, it dives into the messy and long-lasting issues within design education.
June 13, 2024 | 6 pm CEST | online | lecture with Ramia Mazé
The “future”—as a rhetorical device and as an orientation in practice—permeates contemporary design. The temporality implied by this term may contradict other prevalent conceptions of design, such as design as a discipline traditionally and (stereo)typically preoccupied with form, materials, and space.
This lecture explores design in terms of temporality and futurity in order to expose and explore the heterogeneous and expanding nature of design. Posing the question of which and whose knowledges are at stake in design, it dives into the critical studies and practices necessary for the development of the discipline and beyond—taking into consideration “the design turn” i.e. the incorporation of design principles into other disciplines and multiple sectors of society.