Quote from Elise Boulding, “We cannot achieve what we cannot imagine.” White text on purple background.
Quote from Peace Studies activist Elise Boulding. Illustrations by Rachel Arredondo

Here I provide instructions for an activity of backcasting called Future-Backwards. Imagining a path backwards can be a powerful tool to inform strategies to move forward. Future-Backwards uses ideas about long-term futures as a creative — rather than analytical — assessment. Future concepts are vehicles to explore, generate, and engage with, rather than for predicting or validating. These activities can help define, strategize, and rehearse paths to imagining the ambitious change we want to help bring about.

Essentially, instead of planning from the present day, which tends to trap our thinking within the status quo, this practice has you plan…

I keep recommending that friends download and use their public library card to listen to audio book for free (!) on the Libby app. So I thought I’d share a list of the books I’ve been inspired by. Because it can be hard to figure out which books are actually available in audio format.

Because Libby works as a public library, you often will have to wait to access an audio book. So I tend to go in every few weeks and add a bunch of books to my “Holds.” So, that’s what I recommend you do with this list…

Illustration by Rachel Arredondo

For my Design dissertation, I am exploring the idea of clarifying and engaging people in the long-term outcomes of social justice work — visions of the worlds we can achieve. Walidah Imarisha (2010) writes about this as she defines Visionary Fiction. In Design we want to make these visions tangible and experiential (FoAM, 2008, Candy, 2010). In efforts to achieve social justice, visions of the future we might achieve could help communicate WHY the work is necessary and worth the struggle. …

“The more we understand about our histories of both oppression and resistance to it, of injury and resistance, the better we come to know our real capacities, and the better able we become to act powerfully and build real alliances.” (Morales, 2019, p. 65)

A new paper, Anti-Oppression Mindsets for Collaborative Design, will be published as part of the Design Research Society (DRS) Conference in August, 2020. In this paper I draw on the work of Decolonising Design and Design Justice, and I learn from Cross-Cultural Psychology to shape careful and respectful relationships with design partners. Here is a glimpse…

Everyday racism is entwined in the technology that we design, yet we have few tools and techniques to engage participants in solutioning. Participatory Design is an ideal method for bringing people from marginalized positions into the design process. It is a powerful way to imagine solutions with those directly involved in a challenge, but for sensitive topics, like racism, group discussions can be too painful and personal. Here we share how a first-person, fictional, interactive narrative can serve as a rich foundation for collaboration and discussion, and relieves participants of the need to reveal personal trauma until they are ready.

A snapshot of my bookshelf, design and racism books intersecting

My PhD dissertation is focused on anti-racism and design, so people sometimes ask for advice on more diverse or socially-oriented readings for course planning. As a student in the classroom myself, I have felt the frustration of a syllabus filled primarily with white men. It is especially painful as our courses are often made up predominantly of women, and if we’re lucky, include a diversity of cultural backgrounds.

Here I present a list of readings for you to consider adding to your design syllabi to demonstrate that women and People of Color do have a voice and place in design…

Transition Design Approaches

Hillary Carey is quarantining in Oakland, California. She has now completed her first year of the PhD in Transition Design at CMU. She is focused on bringing anti-racism and anti-oppression theories into design practices.

Alex Klein is currently quarantining in Michigan, but calls NYC home. In May 2020 she will complete her Masters of Arts in Design at CMU. Her work focuses on the ecology and the built environment.

Nandini Nair is a third-culture kid hailing Aotearoa (New Zealand)…

Research through Design

An overview of the Mural board used to work through learning activities used in Stacie Rohrbach’s Designing Learner Experiences course

I have been taking Stacie Rohrbach’s class, designing learner experiences to do some hands-on exploration for teaching about racism. This project started with a broad question about how to make more people aware of racism in general and evolved to the more specific objective of teaching college educators about the harm of microaggressions in the classroom.

Slight Off-Hand: A learning game about microaggressions
Making the topic of racial microaggressions more accessible and less intimidating by enabling Teaching Assistants to play out classroom experiences around race in a low-stakes learning environment.

A section of the cover of Designs for the Pluriverse (2018)

In Transition Design class today, we engaged in a video lecture with Arturo Escobar, activist and author of Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical interdependence, autonomy, and the making of worlds (2018). In this book, Escobar proposes a way of designing, Autonomous Design, that is similar to Carnegie Mellon’s Transition Design, and Ezio Manzini’s Social Innovation. Yet Escobar draws more from critical social theories like Feminist Theory and is deeply embedded in Epistemologies of the South.

Participants wrote post-its to analyze a fictional example of a racist microaggression

This entry is Part 2 of my process journal for Designing Learner Experiences. I have narrowed my focus to look at designing a teaching/learning experience around microaggressions on college campuses. This work combines two current projects for me:

  1. As part of a research project in the Human Computer Interaction Institute, I have been facilitating Participatory Design workshops dealing with microaggressions.
  2. I am a student in Stacie Rohrbach’s course on learning + design. She is guiding us through learning theories and design approaches with the goal of constructing an engaging learning experience in May.

My Transition Design Ph.D. Inquiry

Overall my dissertation work is focused on…

Hillary Carey

Design → AntiRacism → Design | pursuing a PhD in #TransitionDesign @CarnegieMellonDesign

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