A conversation between design educators: Tanveer Ahmed and Lauren Williams look at ways to infuse the classroom with activism.
Educators In Correspondence is a moderated conversation between design educators exploring feminist, decolonial, and anti-racist pedagogies. Its aim is to create dialogue through difference, with each conversation pairing positions from across cultural, geographical, and linguistic contexts.
On April 26, 2022, we will initiate the first conversation around Activism and Pedagogy with Tanveer Ahmed and Lauren Williams, who constantly bring activism into the classroom in their educational practices.
Since the ascent of social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, NiUnaMenos, MeToo, and Rhodes Must Fall, among others, there has also been a corresponding wave of student activists who are increasingly demanding higher education models that counter ableist-patriarchal-colonial and otherwise discriminatory models of teaching, learning and knowing. This urgent discussion has also been taking place within design, with many student-led and teacher-led conversations aiming to challenge and transform the contemporary design landscape by producing new knowledge and understanding of design.
Tanveer and Lauren will examine these cultural shifts in student activism, and discuss their experiences with radical pedagogies and social-justice-oriented education in institutionalized and community-based design education in the U.K. and the U.S.A.
Tanveer Ahmed (she/her) is a practice-led fashion design researcher and anti-racist educator. Her work explores ways to expose and rethink how dominant Eurocentric racial hierarchies are used as part of the fashion design process. She is a Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Race at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design of the University of the Arts London in the U.K. She works across the fashion programme to support decolonial fashion perspectives.
Her research emerges from experiences of teaching fashion design over the last 20 years, and recognizing the urgent need to explore alternative non-extractive, anti-racist, and social justice-oriented forms of fashion design pedagogies. This approach emphasizes a more situated, relational and contextualized fashion design praxis by centering plural, non-heteropatriarchal, non-capitalist forms of fashion inspired by pre-colonial concepts of fashion that respect our planet and multi species.
Lauren Williams (she/her) is a Detroit-based designer, organizer, researcher, and educator. She works with visual and interactive media to understand, critique, and reimagine the ways social and economic systems distribute and exercise power. Her practice and research investigate Blackness, identity, bodiliness, and social fictions, examining how racism is felt, embodied, and embedded into institutions. Lauren’s work often engages people through collaborations and facilitated experiences in service of imagining and manifesting a more liberated present and future. Lauren has taught design at the College for Creative Studies, ArtCenter College of Design, and CalArts, among other places. In the past, she has also managed programs and policies aimed at cultivating economic justice at Prosperity Now, a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. She is currently exploring ways to align her capacities with revolutionary movements that build toward a different economy entirely, and usher in new dimensions of power and freedom.