Tasoulla Hadjiyanni

Northrop Professor, Distinguished Global Professor

Interior Design

As founder of Culturally Enriched Communities, I advocate for built environments in communities where everyone can thrive. Eliminating health, income, and educational disparities is a slow process, one that demands targeted interventions in teaching, research, design, and policy along with personal and collective introspections as to who we want to become.


Ph.D., Design, University of Minnesota

M.S., Urban Development and Management, Carnegie Mellon University

B.Arch., Carnegie Mellon University

Selected Scholarship

My scholarship builds on interdisciplinary partnerships and community engagement to explore how design can be leveraged for innovation and change to create communities where everyone can thrive, including:

  • Refugees, immigrants, indigenous, and African American communities.
  • Sexually exploited youth, and
  • Children with mental health challenges.

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Kontea's Memorial for Missing and Murdered

TEDxMinneapolis: How kitchen tables affect our ability to thrive

The Right to Home—Exploring How Space, Culture, and Identity Intersect with Disparities

Hadjiyanni, T. (2019). The Right to Home—Exploring How Space, Culture, and Identity Intersect with Disparities. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

The Right To Home book cover

This book uses stories from Hmong, Somali, Mexicans, Ojibwe, and African Americans in Minnesota to explore how the spatial characteristics of homes can support or suppress peoples’ attempts to create meaning in their lives.

Read more about this book

Interview on The Right to Home

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Design + Disparities

The Making of a Refugee—Children Adopting Refugee Identity in Cyprus

Hadjiyanni, T. (2002). The Making of a Refugee—Children Adopting Refugee Identity in Cyprus. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

The Making of a Refugee by Tasoulla Hadjiyanni

Through an examination of interviews provided by 100 children of refugees in Cyprus, born after their family's displacement, this book illustrates the formation of a refugee consciousness, an identity adopted by many children who never experienced the actual displacement of their family.

Read more about this book

Other Design + Disparities Publications

Design + Sexual Exploitation

My work in the Design + Sexual Exploitation arena is founded on the premise that, as a medium for social justice, design can be the catalyst in the formation of collaborations and synergies that can curtail modern day slavery by inspiring action, raising public consciousness, and creating design interventions that support the needs of victims and communities.

Design Against Trafficking website

Design Against Trafficking

This website shares resources and examples of how design can be used in the fight against trafficking—from architecture to clothing and graphic design.

When Places Speak

When Places Speak

This is a photography exhibit that provides a forum for places associated with trafficking to tell their story: from places where victims are recruited to places used by purchasers to meet victims, places used by law enforcement to stop trafficking, and places where victims can transition.


Design Guidelines for Transition Housing

The Design Guidelines for transition housing we developed support the needs of all victims, regardless of background, and can be used for awareness, fundraising, and planning. As estimates point to 60-80% of sexually exploited youth being Native, Native needs are pulled out and separated. The Guidelines contribute to the No Wrong Door model’s recommendation to “Ensure access to safe and supportive housing” for all sexually exploited youth.

Additional Design + Sex Trafficking Publications

Design + Mental Health

This NSF-funded study is a collaboration between the College of Design, College of Science and Engineering, and the Medical School that explores how environmental parameters intersect with mental health. Helping reveal insights that could remain hidden through conventional methods and approaches, the study challenges how mental health is understood and studied and expands tools for early diagnosis and treatment.


My interdisciplinary and community-engaged pedagogies aim to nurture global citizens by sharpening students’ understanding of the factors that can impact the creation of Culturally Enriched Communities and the role design can play in the process.

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DES 4165-5165: Design and Globalization

The Mapping Resilience Project

The Mapping Resilience Project shares digital stories made by students that highlight examples of places in the Greater MSP region that support the creation of Culturally Enriched Communities: healthy and connected communities in which everyone can thrive. You can search for stories by group or type of place.

IDES 3162: European Influences on American Interiors and Furnishings - 1750–Present

IDES 3605: Interior Design Studio V

Students design residential environments that support diverse ways of living and meaning-making to create communities in which everyone can thrive.


Selected Honors and Awards

2023 University of Minnesota Distinguished Global Professor

2023 ARCC (Architecture Research Centers Consortium) New Book Award for The Right to Home

2021 Imagine Arts, Design, and Humanities Chair 

2021 EDRA Achievement Award (for Landscapes of Hope)

2021 College of Design Outstanding Outreach Award (for Landscapes of Hope)

2021 Outstanding Community Service Award – University of Minnesota (for Design Against Trafficking)

2021 Selected for CIDA’s 2021 Future Visions Project

2021 IIDA Educator Diversity Award

2020 Article on “Decolonizing interior design education” was selected by the Journal of Interior Design for open access as a resource for racial and social justice.

2020 Culturally Enriched Communities selected for MNImpact by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station

2020 IDEC Innovative Teaching Ideas for The Mapping Resilience Project

2018 College of Design Outstanding Contributions to Equity and Diversity Award

2018 Faculty Fellow – Institute for Advanced Study (Spring)

2017 Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) Service Award

2017 Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) Service Award

2016 College of Design Outstanding Research Award

2016 Featured in the University of Minnesota's Driven to Discover Campaign

2015 Featured in the University of Minnesota’s Improving Campus Climate Office for Equity and Diversity

2009 College of Design Outstanding Teaching Award

Tasoulla Hadjiyanni

Tasoulla Hadjiyanni

Specialties & Expertise:

Affordable housing; health, income, and educational disparities; mental health; sexual exploitation.