Design Justice in Action

December 6, 2021

Launched in fall 2020, the College of Design’s Design Justice Initiative was founded to create space, policies, and practices within the college that support the inclusion and retention of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other historically underinvested communities. A year after its founding, the initiative has launched a number of events and programs to help forward its work.

Design Justice Cluster Hire

A significant goal of the college is to provide opportunities for hiring a cluster of faculty across our disciplines that have a justice-centered lens to their design work. To that end, the college launched its first Design Justice Cluster Hire in fall 2021 to recruit faculty members for its product design, interior design, and architecture programs.

Members of the Design Justice Cluster Hire will teach and conduct research, scholarship, creative work, and/or service centered on design justice. They will also contribute to the cultivation of policies and practices that exemplify the college’s commitment to the mission of the Design Justice Collective and serve as members of the collective for the first two years of their appointment.

Special Topics in Design Justice

Held annually in the spring semester, the new Special Topics in Design Justice course is open to all Twin Cities undergraduate and graduate students and will explore a different topic related to design justice each year.

The upcoming spring 2022 course will be taught by Guest Lecturer Jennifer White-Johnson, who will help students learn about the intersections of design justice, disability, and racism. Students in the course will explore what it means to center design justice and anti-racism around accessibility by dissecting historical and present-day events. Starting in the 2022–2023 academic year the Special Topics in Design Justice will be designated as a Liberal Education course and will count towards students meeting this requirement.

Learn more about Special Topics in Design Justice: Disability, Racism, & the Intersections of Design Justice by viewing the graduate syllabus or undergraduate syllabus.


The Design Justice Initiative is now holding space for different affinity groups throughout the semester. These events serve as a way for College of Design students, faculty, and staff to connect and support one another. So far there is a BIPOC Student & Employee Affinity Space and a Queer Student & Employee Affinity Space with an Ally Affinity space coming soon. Find out more about our affinity groups.

Want to Get Involved?

There is a lot more in store for the Design Justice Initiative in the future. You can stay up to date on all of the new and ongoing events, programs, and more by visiting the Design Justice homepage, signing up for the Design Justice newsletter, joining the Design Justice Collective, or, if you are a current student, applying for the BIPOC student design collective coordinator position.

Assistant Professors Terresa Moses (University of Minnesota) and Lisa Mercer (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) first met at the University of North Texas as graduate students. Three years later, the two reunited to create the Racism Untaught toolkit—a resource to help design educators bring social impact projects and discussions of race, culture, and identity to their classrooms.

On display at the Hennepin History Museum, Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis explores the history of racial housing discrimination in Minneapolis through the stories of three Black families.

Created by the Women in Architecture Student Organization (WIASO), the latest exhibition in Rapson Hall’s HGA Gallery Link, “Gendering Architecture, Architecting Gender,” shines a spotlight on historic and contemporary female architects.