Critical Theory, Social Justice, & Philosophy of Design
Project Studio: “Sweet Auburn, Birthplace of Ideas”


OVERVIEW

In the spring of 2016, the STS advanced seminar course titled Critical Teory, Social Justice, and Philosophy of Design will be paired with a project studio titled, Sweet Auburn: Birthplace of Ideas as part of Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center initiative.

Critical Theory, Social Justice, and Philosophy of Design will engage the theme social justice as it relates to the design of technologies both digital and nondigital. We engage this relationship from two sides. On the side of critical and philosophic theory, we will study classical and contemporary theories of social justice to understand the plurality of ways that justice is conceived and advanced through the accumulation and distribution of goods. We will discover how these debates live on in the 21st century and their relationship to the social and political issues of the time. On the side of design philosophy, we will engage scholarship in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and design studies to understand how technologies foster or inhibit social justice, empower or repress people. We will explore how science and technology have been variously implicated in epistemological and material struggles for social justice, and the role that design philosophy, research, and practice can or should play in those spheres.

Sweet Auburn: Birthplace of Ideas will engage the theme of social justice from the perspective of interaction design practice. In doing so, we will engage stories of the civil rights movement and how they surface, shape, reinforce, or challenge social justice issues central to the past, current, and future development of Sweet Auburn specifically and Atlanta more generally. This class is organized around several projects in conversation with the local community. Through these projects, students put the theories of social justice into a direct relationship to design practice while learning specific design skills such as ideation, critique, prototyping, and co-design. Emphasis will be put on the transformational role of digital technologies and participatory cultures to frame community-based problems and devising strategies of approaching and solving those problems in ways that are innovative, ethical, and culturally informed.

Aligned with the spirit of participatory and co-design, the two courses will host conversations with thought-leaders and community members. In doing so, we seek to cultivate new ideas and partnerships that carry the long traditions of Auburn into the 21st century as the birthplace of ideas and the place to continue the course of non-violent social change.


LEARNING OUTCOMES
  • A broad understanding and appreciation of design as a liberal art
  • To understand philosophic foundations design and their relationship to theories of social justice
  • To understand and communicate in sophisticated ways issues of social justice, especially orally and in writing
  • To use the theories and philosophies of social justice to engage design problems and design issues creatively and critically
  • Hands-on experience in framing design problems and devising design strategies with awareness of historical, ethical, and cultural issues
  • Ability to form arguments in response to design artifacts, describing and engaging their formal, experiential, and political qualities
  • To gain experience in employing design techniques and methods such as ideation, prototyping, criticism, user research, and presentation and documentation of design work

READINGS
  • Sandel, Michael J. Justice: What's the right thing to do?. Macmillan, 2010.
  • Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs). New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.
  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed books, 1999.
  • Additional readings will be distributed through t-square.

Theory Design and Social Justice
  • Research the dictionary definition and etymology of the word Justice. Find and research related words in origin or meaning (e.g., justify; equity; fairness) and trace their definitions and etymologies.
  • Rosenberger, R. “How Cities Use Design to Drive the Homeless Away.” 2014.
  • Winner, L. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” 1986.
  • Buchanan, “Human Dignity and Human Rights, Thoughts on the Principles of Human Centered Design.” 2001
Studio Communication, Conversation, and Design
Before
In Class
  • Discussion: Creativity
  • Activities: Drawing lines
  • Project 1 Assigned: Type and Meaning

  • Project 2 Explained
After
  • Find: 100 uses for a paper clip
  • Practice: Drawing Lines; Upside Down Drawing
Theory Grounds for Justice: Pain, Pleasure, and Utilities
Tuesday
  • Sandel, Michael. Justice, What is the Right Thing to Do? Chapters 1 and 2.
  • Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation (1780). Chapters 1 and 4. 
  • John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism. Chapters 4 and 5.
  • Listen: "Playing God," RadioLab
Thursday
  • Concrete examples and discussion of utilitarianism
Studio Form and Content
Before
In Class
  • Presentation & Discussion: Form and meaning + Typography
  • Project 1: Type and Meaning Crit 1 (see project sheet for details)
After
  • Draw: 3 letters from 3 typefaces
Theory Grounds for Justice: Self-Ownership and Individual Liberties
Tuesday
  • Sandel, Michael. Justice, What is the Right Thing to Do? Chapters 3 and 4.
  • Nozick, Robert. "Distributive justice." Philosophy & Public Affairs (1973): 45-126.
  • Listen: "The Girl Who Doesn't Exist", Radiolab
Thursday
  • Visit, APEX Museum
Studio Organization, Hierarchy (and Politics)
Before
In Class
  • Presentation & Discussion: Grids and Composition; Classification and Organization
  • Class Activity: Richard Gregory Poster
  • Project 1: Type and Meaning Crit 2 (see project sheet for details)
After
  • Draw: Grid structures of 3 pages from 3 websites (9 pages)
Theory Grounds for Justice: Human Worth and Dignity
Tuesday
  • Sandel, Michael. Justice, What is the Right Thing to Do? Chapters 5.
  • listen: Radiolab, “One Vote.” Nov. 2016
  • Recommended: Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.
Thursday
  • No Class.
  • Visit Center for Civil and Human Rights, Martin Luther King Center, and Atlanta History Center
Studio
Before
In Class
  • Project 1: Type and Meaning Crit 3 (Final due next week)
  • Project 2: Five Page Report On Background Research For Project 2 Due
  • Project 2: Sweet Auburn, Birthplace of Ideas, Group Formation and Brainstorming
  • Invited Presentation: Dr. Timothy Crimmons, Professor & Director of the Center for Neighborhood and Metropolitan Studies, Georgia State University
After
  • Prepare for final presentation of project 1.
  • Prepare for Submission to GATECH Art Crawl.
Theory Grounds for Justice: The Social Contract
Tuesday
  • Sandel, Michael. Justice, What is the Right Thing to Do? Chapters 6, 7.
  • Cozzens, Susan E. "Distributive justice in science and technology policy." Science and Public Policy 34, no. 2 (2007): 85–94.
  • Recommended: Rawls, John. A theory of justice.
Thursday
  • Invited Lecture: Joseph Hurley, Data Services & GIS Librarian, Georgia State University.
Studio Decolonizing Methodologies
Before
  • Talk to Your Classmates, Brainstorm Ideas and Be Ready to Discuss in Class
  • Read: Introduction + Chapters 7 and 8 of "Decolonizing Methodologies," by Linda Tuhiwai Smith.
In Class
  • Project 1. Final (quick) Presentation and Reflection
  • Project 2. Idea Generation, Brainstorming
After
Theory Grounds for Justice: Human Virtues
Reflection and Discussion of Pluralism
Tuesday
  • Sandel, Michael. Justice, What is the Right Thing to Do? Chapter 8, 9, 10.

Thursday
  • Buchanan, Richard. "Children of the moving present: the ecology of culture and the search for causes in design." Design issues 17, no. 1 (2001): 67–84.
Studio Presentation
Before
  • Concept Development, Comparative Analysis, Background Research, and Plan/Timeline
In Class
  • Project 2. Presentation and Crit #1
  • Class Visit: Karen Viars, Humanities Librarian, Georgia Institute of Technology
Theory Social Justice as a Design Hypothesis
Tuesday
  • JafariNaimi, Nassim, Lisa Nathan, and Ian Hargraves. "Values as hypotheses: design, inquiry, and the service of values." Design Issues 31, no. 4 (2015): 91–104.

Thursday
  • Whitbeck, Caroline. 1992. “The Trouble with Dilemmas: Rethinking Applied Ethics,” Professional Ethics 1 (1/20): 119–42.
  • Whitbeck, Caroline. 2011. Ethics in engineering practice and research. Cambridge University Press. (Chapter 1: Introduction to Ethical Concepts)
Studio Working Session
Theory The Practical Work of Theories
Tuesday
  • JafariNaimi, Nassim, ”Our Bodies in the Trolley’s Path, or Why Self-Driving Cars Must *Not* Be Programmed to Kill.” Unpublished.
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. 1993. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Creative Education.
  • Wells, Kate, Edgard Sienaert, and Joan Conolly. "The Siyazama Project: A Traditional Beadwork and AIDS Intervention Program." Design Issues 20, no. 2 (2004): 73-89.
Thursday
  • Individual Meetings/Feedback
Studio Presentation
In Class
  • Project 2. Presentation and Crit #2
Theory Contemporary and Feminist Perspectives
Tuesday
  • Young, Iris Marion. Justice and Politics of Difference. Introduction, Chapter 1, 2 and 6.
  • Chapter 1: Displacing the Distributive Paradigm
  • Chapter 2: Five Faces of Oppression
  • Chapter 6: Social Movements and Politics of Difference
Thursday
Studio Working Session
Theory Contemporary and Feminist Perspectives
Tuesday
  • Hooks, Bell. Feminist Theory from Margin to Center. Chapters 1, 2, 6 (Required) — Chapters 4, 5, 12 (Optional)
  • Hooks, Bell. "Refusing to be a Victim." Killing Rage: Ending Racism (1996).
  • Hooks, Bell. "Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness." Yearnings, Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (1989).
  • Hooks, Bell. "Theory as Liberatory Practice."
Thursday
  • Continued Discussion (Bell Hooks)
Studio Presentation & Feedback
Spring Break
Theory Located accountabilities
Tuesday
  • Class presentation on paper topic (2 minute)
Thursday
  • Suchman, Lucy. "Located accountabilities in technology production." Scandinavian journal of information systems 14.2 (2002): 7.
  • Philip, Kavita, Lilly Irani, and Paul Dourish. "Postcolonial computing: A tactical survey." Science, Technology, & Human Values 37, no. 1 (2012): 3-29.
Studio Presentation & Feedback
Before
  • Project 1 and Project 2: Process book drafts due
Theory
Tuesday
Thursday
  • In class work on individual papers, informal conversation and feedback
Studio Working Session
Theory The Knowing Most Worth Doing: Criticism, Conversation, and Design
Tuesday
  • Booth, Wayne C. "The Peculiar ‘Logic’ of Evaluative Criticism." The Company We Keep: an Ethics of Fiction. [Read the final section: How we come to the act of judging: Coduction]
  • Booth, Wayne C. "Now don't try to reason with me." (1972).
  • Booth, Wayne C.“The Possibilities of Pluralism.”, In The Knowing Most Worth Doing. (Recommended for Undergraduate and MS students — Required for PhD students)
Thursday
  • DEMO DAY (optional)
Studio Working Session
Theory Special Topics in Social Justice
Tuesday
  • The Co-production of Knowledge by Reproductive Justice Advocates and Molecular Biologists; Conversation and brainstorming with Dr. Deboleena Roy, Associate Professor, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) AND Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
Thursday
  • Design and Experiences of the Justice System; Conversation with Dr. Lauren Sudeall Lucas, Assistant Professor of Law, Center for Access to Justice
Studio Working Session
Theory Final
Tuesday
  • Class presentation of papers
Thursday
Studio Final
In Class
  • Final presentation of Projects

Came From Nothing: The Story of Benjamin “Big Mouth Ben” Graham

Nick Tippens and Ali Yildirim

Came From Nothing is a documentary film that chronicles the life story of Benjamin "Big Mouth Ben" Graham, an entrepreneur and motivational entertainer who overcame 17 years of addiction and homelessness on Auburn Avenue to become a business owner on that same street. This documentary aims to do justice to Ben’s remarkable, colorful story of resilience by capturing it, aesthetically and thematically, in all of its depth and complexity.

In Her Footsteps

Akansha Gupta, Alyssa Rumsey, and Horyun Song

When walking down Auburn Avenue take notice of the footprints on the sidewalk and let the journey unfold. At the end of the path, you will stand in the shoes of a successful woman. Her silhouette will invite you to experience the past. These public, interactive installations will engage with the rich heritage of Auburn Avenue and seek to preserve and inspire.

Sweet Auburn Story Collective

Luisa Botelho, Shruti Dalvi, and Abby Golfo

Our project focuses on telling the stories of Sweet Auburn through a collection of cards. We would like our audience to connect with these cards and continue the conversations. The cards can be held on to or shared digitally and physically, with the hope to track the journeys of the different cards through geotagging.

Church of Refuge: Stories from Our Lady of Lourdes

Brooke Bosley and Stephen Song

Our Lady of Lourdes Church was founded in 1912 as the first African American Catholic Church in Atlanta.The goal of the project is to connect, preserve, create, and share stories on how the church provided refuge. The project is a: pamphlet on objects, a website, and an interactive installation on what refuge means to individuals.

The Auburn Historic District Puzzle

Aditya Anupam, Gayatri Gaekwad, and Sarah Baik

School children visiting The King Center and the Visitor Center on Auburn Avenue often do not engage much with the exhibits in these museums. They are often distracted, and play on their phones. We are attempting to respond to this problem by creating interactive puzzle booklets that connect students better with the exhibits.

The Auburn Historic District Puzzle

Chloe Kiernicki and Annie Son

As Atlanta’s only public market, the Sweet Auburn Curb Market has always been “for all,” but no one knows about it. We sought to inform visitors on the impact of the nearly 100-year-old market through an interactive wall installation that chronologically shares the market’s personality through stories.