Fostering a New Generation of Equity-Centered Designers - Archana Shekara

Fostering a New Generation of Equity-Centered Designers - Archana Shekara


Fostering a New Generation of  Equity-Centered Designers
Archana Shekara,MFA / Associate Professor of Graphic Design, Creative Director of Design Streak Studio, Co-director of Ethnic Studies

Abstract from 2021 SEGD Communication + Place
We live in a world where words like Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility and Belonging (DEIAB) are trending, and several large corporations and universities globally are readdressing and redefining their mission statement and values hoping to create welcoming spaces for all. How can predominately white universities following a Euro-centric curriculum break away from traditional  learning environments and practices to promote a holistic understanding of DEIAB? How can art and design education provide a platform for building empathy, understanding, and respect? How can we engage in complex and sensitive discussions about race, racism, power, privilege and ableism in our classroom?

This paper presents innovative teaching methodologies adopted in Design Streak Studio, a senior graphic design capstone course at Illinois State University. The studio is a social innovation research lab which facilitates an immersive  interdisciplinary environment promoting student engagement and service learning. Each semester, the studio collaborates with diverse community partners that  promotes social justice issues. Three such collaborations, and one faculty-student community interdisciplinary project with presidential scholars from Advanced  Honors Seminar and Design Streak Studio are presented in this paper. It will also review the value of empowering students to engage in social activism using design as a tool in creating equity-centered designs for bettering our community, and respecting human dignity.

Read more in the 2021 SEGD Communication + Place journal and other papers at

Communication + Place is the official research journal of the Experiential Graphic Design community. Published online, the journal features articles from both academics and professionals advancing the XGD profession through creative research, curriculum development, project reviews, and user-centric testing.