Facilitating Justice through Design Research

Mariam Asad
Graduate student
Georgia Institute of Technology

Whereas much academic scholarship engages with the concepts and principles of justice; design research is a unique opportunity to challenge oppression by leveraging design-based resources and practices. This presentation will discuss some concrete and pragmatic examples of design research work that tries to materially contributes to community-based efforts around injustice. I draw from my fieldwork with advocacy and activist communities in Atlanta to explore how to better align design and anti-oppression work. The first vignette takes place during design workshops with housing justice activists: here, we facilitated prototyping exercises to prompt activists to envision technological interventions to support their political work. The second vignette is based in a project to co-develop with local communities a playbook for civic engagement. This series of design workshops marshaled existing wisdom and resources in neighborhoods to increase their capacity for agency and influencing change to address their local needs and concerns. I draw connections across our design research work through these two fieldsites to encourage design work that has higher stakes in local civic change and positions designers and researchers as facilitators to support our community collaborators doing justice and anti-oppression work on the ground.