Chapter 5 Review : Design Pedagogies: “There’s Something Wrong with This System!”

“Design justice is a framework that can help guide us as we seek to teach computing, software development, and design in ways that support, rather than suppress, the development of critical consciousness and that provide scaffolding for learners’ connections to the social movements that are necessary to transform our world.”  

Photo by Nina Bianchi – Chapter 5, Design Justice

“Critical pedagogy seeks to transform consciousness, to provide students with ways of knowing that enable them to know themselves better and live in the world more fully.”

Design JusticePhoto by Caydie McCumber

 With conglomerate instances to elucidate the role of pop ed in US social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, Costanza-Chock enumerates the example of the Highlander Research and Education Center, founded in 1932 by educator Myles Horton where he taught and worked with Civil Rights luminaries including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and John Lewis, which has invariably employed pop ed for “building grassroots leadership within movements for civil rights, organized labor, and environmental justice, among others.”

Costanza-Chock expresses the ever-growing, increasing need for technology as an intersectional, inclusive tool for liberation by applying pop ed approaches into practices of technology design or design of new technology. This can be achieved through supporting collective efforts to cultivate and develop shared understanding of ICT infrastructure and improve the quality of life for some of the most marginalized people in the United States and by fostering some real learning through reflection on society’s prevailing problems, and affirmative, effective actions to transform the world.  

Costanza-Chock enumerates the increasing need to incorporate Participatory Action Design (PAD) methods by providing multiple real-world instances in the chapter in conjunction with other multifarious liberatory frameworks and approaches such as critical community technology pedagogy, data feminism, and certain aspects of constructionism, as well as some strands within digital media literacy which are closely aligned with pop ed principles for design pedagogies. Decolonizing design pedagogy is another crucial step that Costanza-Chock emphasises and indicates in her proposition.

Furthermore, Costanza-Chock enumerates that in their 2019 book Data Feminism, data scientists, artists, researchers, and educators Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein include a section titled “Teach Data Like an Intersectional Feminist,” where they describe an intersectional feminist approach to the pedagogy of data science, grounded in “values of equity, ethics and co-liberation with compelling argument grounded in real-world classroom examples” with emphasis on teaching data sciences inclusive of values such as ethics, emotions and not just limited to reason, thus establishing a balance between the desire to be inclusive, collaborative, and accountable  to the society.

Data Feminism, MIT Press Open

“…there needs to be a shift in how people think about programming, and about computers in general. We need to expand the notion of ‘digital fluency’ to include designing and creating, not just browsing and interacting.”  

Decolonizing and Democratizing design education

Costanza-Chock concentrates on the convergence of pedagogies and democratizing design education. Furthermore, a particularly crucial step in this process is emphasis on Decolonizing Design Pedagogies.

“…Accordingly, in a constructionist pedagogy of design justice, learners should make knowledge about design justice for themselves and do so through working on meaningful projects. Ideally, these should be developed together with, rather than for, communities that are too often excluded from design processes. Along with the shifts in design pedagogy toward community-led processes, intersectional feminist principles, and learning by doing described here so far, the idea of decolonizing design pedagogy is gaining steam. Decolonizing design involves decentering Western approaches to design pedagogy, while centering design approaches, histories, theories, and practices rooted in indigenous communities.”

“… advocates a shift away from Eurocentric, modernist approaches to design history and toward a truly global approach that includes design practices from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. He cautions against sprinkling “non-Western” design objects on top of an already existing Eurocentric curriculum, and argues that “design is no less than the conception and planning of the artificial world. Its products include objects, processes, systems, and environments; in short, everything… Margolin feels that an emphasis on rethinking historical narratives to center formerly marginalized or erased design practices, rather than simply including designed objects from more cultures, can help avoid this pitfall.”

Design Narratives (Link :
Design Narratives: From TXTMob to Twitter 
Design Justice, MIT Press


Costanza-Chock, Sasha. “Chapter 5-Design Pedagogies: ‘There’s Something Wrong with This System!’” Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need, MIT Press, 2020. 

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