The design of human-made objects, systems, and content is not neutral. Oppressive and liberatory forces are often woven into the fabric of human-made systems like media, architecture, government, transportation, and schools. How might learners and the teachers they teach make visible the ways injustices can be designed? What pedagogies and practices might encourage learners to interrogate patterns of power that perpetuate and systematize oppression? How might we support young people to become sensitive to the design of their own participation so that they may envision ways to participate more, or differently?

Founded and directed by Sarah Sheya, and developed in collaboration with a small cohort of educators across Washington, D.C., JusticexDesign (JxD) is investigating pedagogies and practices for cultivating a critical sensitivity to design, or a sensitivity to designed injustices, and activating critical maker empowerment, or the disposition to re/examine and re/envision one’s participation in co-liberation. The JxD project foregrounds critical applications of the Agency by Design framework for maker-centered learning and centers hands-on maker-centered learning experiences to do this work. Approaching power, oppression, and justice as malleable rather than fixed, the JxD project’s justice-directional pedagogical tools support students to 1) look closely at context, history, legacy, and representation when interacting with, consuming, and/or creating human-designed systems and content, 2) explore the complexity and multidimensionality of forces of power that shape and influence everyday systems and content, and 3) find opportunities to redesign their own participation in justice-directional and pattern-disruptive ways.

During the first phase of the project (2019-2020), JusticexDesign developed a preliminary framework for supporting a critical sensitivity to design and activating critical maker empowerment, along with tools, blog posts, and other writings. Stay up to date on opportunities to engage with the JusticexDesign framework and attend JxD workshops by joining the Project Zero mailing list.

With support from Jim Reese, Director of the Professional Development Collaborative at the Washington International School (WIS), Edward P. Clapp, principal investigator at Project Zero, and Jaime Chao Mignano, STEAM Community Coordinator at WIS, Sarah Sheya launched this research project in October 2019 in the Alan M. Reese Design Lab at WIS with a collective of teachers from WIS and from six public and parochial schools across Washington, D.C. This collective, the JusticexDesign Origin Educators, contribute immensely to the research of this work. The JxD Origin Educators are: Agnes Gómez, Angélica Guerrero, Anne Leflot, Ashley Beck, gerald d. smith jr., Jaime Chao Mignano, Maria Fernanda García, Mark Perkins, Nicholas Loewen, and Sonia Chintha. Since the conception of JusticexDesign, Jaime Chao Mignano has also made invaluable contributions as Senior Practitioner Specialist for the project.

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