Design for Social Value at SVA Products of Design

I am delighted to be collaborating with the wonderful Rafael Smith of on a new course offering at SVA PoD this fall 2016. We spent most of the summer plotting out the curriculum, which raised so many thought-provoking questions and insights.

The class, Design for Social Value (as written in the official course materials), is intended to frame a frank discussion about the role privilege plays in the lives of designers and the life of design. In particular, we are approaching this topic from the lens of race. As two bi-racial people of color, both raised in families of immigrants, we hope to engage students in an possibly fraught conversation around how and why designers should interrogate their own assumptions, insights and experiences to better understand how people of color are often disenfranchised by design.

By interrogating systems - our behavior and performance within those systems, our expectations and assumptions about the goals of those systems, our understanding of and relationship to power in those systems, our role in perpetuating or dismantling those systems - we will be forced to acknowledge the great variety of experiences other people have in systems we often perceive as benign (at worst) and complimentary or supportive of our well being (at best). Do the systems that enable one group of people to thrive serve to oppress others? These are some of the concerns we want to address?

My hope is that this will be a conversation in which we will all inform each others point of view and challenge each other to get into some uncomfortable places where we are forced to push our own boundaries.