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March 2021 Design Thinking Breakfast with Raja Schaar, IDSA
Friday, March 26, 2021

This workshop explores the ethics of design as it relates to climate change, disasters, and possibly even a pandemic! Participants will imagine the artifacts of design that exist in these different worlds. What does a shoe look like in a post-apocalyptic world? What role does the shoe play? Let’s learn together! 

About the Hosts

  • Raja Schaar, IDSA is Program Director and Assistant Professor of Product Design at Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. She also co-chairs IDSA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. She is an industrial designer with an extensive background in museum exhibit design who is passionate about ways design can make positive impact intersections with health, the environment, and education.

    Raja’s interdisciplinary research focuses on addressing inequities in maternal health; methods for engaging black girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM/STEAM through design and technology; innovation and entrepreneurship education; and biologically-inspired design and sustainability.

    Raja currently co-leads two collaborative research projects. She works with faculty from Drexel’s College of Nursing and Design and Merchandising Programs the development of low-cost wearables for maternal health. She is co-PI on an interdisciplinary research project funded by the US Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Grant entitled “Black Girls STEAMing through Dance,” where she works with students and faculty from Drexel’s departments of Computing and Informatics, Dance, and the School of Education to uncover STEAM identities, literacies, and self-concept in African American girls through the development of wearable technology. Raja is also PI on a VentureWell Faculty Grant that connects Product Design, Biomedical Engineering, and Entrepreneurship to examine the role of clinical immersion on product innovation on campus.

    As an educator, Raja works to infuse Drexel’s Product Design Curriculum with society-centered design principles that address impactful, real-world problems. She teaches a number of traditional and research-based studios across the curriculum, but her favorite courses to teach are Interdisciplinary Product Design, Bio-Inspired Design and Sustainability, Design and Waste, and Wearables for Health.

    Before joining Drexel’s Product Design faculty, Raja taught at Georgia Tech School of Industrial Design and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at GA Tech and Emory University. Raja received her BSID from Georgia Tech in 2001 and completed her graduate work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003.


  • Niesha Ford is a second-year graduate student at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Niesha works with multiple organizations committed to causes such as: providing services for people experiencing homelessness, encouraging positive racial perspectives, and working with historically marginalized groups to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Presentation Materials

About Design Thinking Breakfast

The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking hosts a monthly design thinking breakfast, where we showcase the work of design thinkers around the world. These breakfasts are a space to build community among those using design, design thinking, and related methods for social impact with some local flavor, particularly from the greater New Orleans area and the Gulf South. In a one-hour morning session of creativity and networking, participants have the opportunity to explore design methods and applications.



Lesley-Ann Noel

Okay, so good morning everybody, my name is Lesley Ann Noel and I’m the associate director of design thinking for social impact at the Taylor Center the Phyllis M. Center for social innovation and design thinking. We do the monthly design thinking breakfast which really are a fun, a nice way of connecting with other people in the design world here at Taylor so the format is pretty simple, I’m actually going to shut up very quickly because I’m just telling you hi from the Taylor Center, but these sessions are really led by our graduate assistant and Niesha Ford who works with our guest, to create the session for today, so all of that said I’m immediately going to hand it over so Niesha, she can introduce herself and introduce our guests tonight show over to you.


Niesha Ford

Thank you so good morning everyone, this is our third DT breakfast of this school semester if you’ve been here before you know I’m Niesha Ford, I’m a graduate assistant, at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center. I’m also the co- host of the dt breakfast’s every Friday, every month, at the end of every month. Our guest today, so I’m going to do a brief intro for our guest today and then I’m going et her introduce herself as well.


So, the guests, we have today her name is Raja and please if I mess up your last name, please correct me, it’s Raja Schaar, correct? Okay. She is the program director and assistant director of product design at Drexel University’s college of media arts and design. She also co-chairs ids as diversity equity and inclusion council. She’s industrial designer with an extensive background and museum exhibit design, who is passionate about ways design can make a positive impact, and intersections with health and environment and education. So, at that really brief intro, I’m going to hand it over to Raja introduce herself and then we’re going to get started, for the morning.



Raja Schaar:

Can you hear me. All right, hi everyone and welcome to the design thinking breakfast I’m so happy to be here with you, virtually, I actually I’m really disappointed that I could not be there in person, this would have definitely been one of the few trips that would have been worth it just, travel and then spend a few days, I love New Orleans.


I was there, maybe two years ago for a conference and I, not for the first time, but for like many times like I always try to go back, and so, in fact, I was meaning to have my background, being the beignets, that I had the last time I was there. I just forgot to change it, but it’s very, very exciting to be there actually I mean maybe I might even make the effort to change it like while I’m talking to you all, because, I was kind of I was kind of bummed, I turned on my camera, and I was like no the pictures aren’t on this computer.


But I’m really excited to be here, so today, I am going to be talking about the work that I do as a design educator. I am an industrial designer I am, as Niesha said, I am the program director for product design at Drexel University. In addition to that, I also co-chair the diversity, equity, and inclusion council for IDSA , which is the industrial designer society of america. So, for those of you they’re familiar with that organization or not familiar with industrial design. I’ll give you a little background before I get started, but essentially my field of design is responsible for the mass production of things that are distributed across the globe, so it could be anything from, a phone, a pair of glasses, cups etc.


So we really are about the business of coming up with the best strategy and the best design attributes to put on those objects, so that we can serve the most amount of people and the best way.  It is a very commercially driven profession, and that we are making goods for sale. However, on the education side of things, we really try to reinforce rather than just the business connection is how to do that in the most strategic way, and then skilled way. Understanding manufacturing, understanding like product technology, but also how do we do that for the best, the best way for people and the planet. So, we often think of, things like human factors on ethics, considering social impact of our work, the environmental impact of our work, and also the life cycle of the things that we produce.


So, students that are trained in industrial design are learning to make and manufacture things but oftentimes we try to talk about these things in concert with what’s happening in the rest of the world. So, as an industrial designer on it is been a really big part of my practice is to how to use the skills that I have and deeply understanding people, being connected to the planet and also knowing how to generate ideas for the greatest good.


So that’s really how I try to approach it and so I’m going to talk to you a little bit about my path and why I really fell in love with, industrial design or technology to begin with, and then additionally I’m going to send you all to or we’re going to go into a little activity that I’ve been doing with some of my students. So, if you give me one second someone just asked me for a link to this thing, so hold on I’m going to paste it into my chat I apologize.


Give me one second


Oh, I was not anticipating that.


Don’t you love technology? Don’t you love having everything on your phone or on your computer? So anyway, I am going to share my slides in just a second, but before I do that, I just wanted to see where there any questions? I’m probably going to spend about 15 minutes, try to move quickly through my presentation, so we can spend the remaining time in the activity and just for one point verification we’re ending, hard stop at 9am central correct Niesha?


So, I just want to make sure.


I always have to make sure I’m sharing the right screen, so I think I am, everybody can see that, yes?


All right very cool so hi.


Hi I’m Raja again, so welcome to my talk, Ci-Fi Ethics and the Future, yaaay. So, really, this is a talk that deals with resilience and thinking about issues of justice and adaptation, as it relates to speculative design, and as you might have intuited from the title of this thing it’s Cli-Fi, as climate fiction so we’ll get into that briefly, but just to get into sort of me.


I grew up in South Georgia, which is probably the one town and most devoid of design in the conversation. I had never heard the word design. I knew about engineering, I knew about all these other things, but I did not understand that what I had always wanted to do with my life was create amazing things, really toys, which I thought were awesome, was something that was a field, a thought, it was a way of training, a way of being. But I did learn a lot from visual culture, specifically popular culture, more specifically, TV and movies, like I learned about the world through TV and movies, like a lot of us do a learned about other cultures, but I also learned a dream, and so my parents were nerds, and so they really raised me on a very rich diet of science fiction.


My mom is a trekkie, and so I grew up watching reruns of the original star trek series, in addition to like every week, we would watch. The next generation together, but one of the stories that I really resonated with me when watching it and sort of seeing Michelle Nichols on screen as Uhura, was not just that it was about this sort of a traveling band of space people looking for ways to connect with other species and exploring new worlds and sort of being Ambassadors of Earth. It was really this idea that there is a black woman President on the team, at a level playing field with the other members and that resonated with me. I was kind of like why is she the only one?


The one woman, the one black person as the token, but I wish there was more, but I didn’t understand the context of when this show, sort of aired in the 60’s and something that I learned later on and going to Sci- fi conventions was the story that Michelle told, about how Dr Martin Luther King was the reason that she stayed a member of the cast of this show, and that was because of the significance of her representation on screen, at a time of the height of the civil rights movement, where people were fighting for liberation recognition, equality, and demanding that they matter. We have we look to our TV screens every week and we see you there, in the future, and so there is this this artwork that’s also generated, but these this quote but they’re black people, in the future.


And that idea of just her being there, meant so much to so many people, and it really gave them as aspiration of hope. And that was the reason that she stayed a member of the cast because she was going to quit to pursue a career in musical theatre, because she preferred musical theatre to Sci- fi. Not that she didn’t like the show, it was just one of those things where it was not really her jam, but because of that, because of that significance, she stayed a member of the cast she also went on to work closely with NASA, to try to inspire more black kids, brown kids, and women to enter into STEM careers and it just sort of skyrocketed from there, which is just fantastic.


Another one, of course, is Star Wars, this was my dad’s favorite like Sci-fi trilogy at the time, as I was growing up now it’s, what do you call it when it has nine parts or how, full on, a full-on like universe, portfolio of movies, but like growing up my dad really like this idea of like, how do we understand morality and he really like this very clear cut: there’s the dark side and there’s a light side. But of course, I didn’t care about that I really cared about Leia, because I thought that she was this amazing badass, and

from the get go when they presented her in the early minutes of the film, this is thinking about new hope it was this damsel in distress this, you know this projection, of this hologram was asking for help, but the minute you meet her you realize that she’s probably, the most skilled, most strategic and bravest of the bunch, which really for me, as a young kid watching this was like “yes, a badass princess” so you know for a lot of kids this idea of representation in media is really important.


And I think that what that does for me as it’s fed into the way that I perceived my work. Not only the significance of my work but also looking for inspiration for it and it’s not just looking for inspiration and role models I’m also looking at other themes so themes like extinction, from watching The Never Ending Story. This idea of the nothing, that’s coming to suck up everything. And that was probably the first time, I was probably mature enough to understand that this was an allegory for really climate change. And how, what we were doing to our planet and the lack of belief, not just in like fairy tales, but the lack of belief and like what is happening around us.


But, of course, I was a kid of the 80s, so I got beat over the head, quite a bit, with climate change tales, so this is a snapshot of FernGully. For those of you that don’t know, FernGully is based on these fairies who live in the rain forest, who try to save their ecosystem and habitat from the destruction of the man who is personified, as literally smoke plumes coming from this equipment that’s clear cutting the forest, right. And so again, not to make anything subtle, we actually were developing these this idea of superheroes. And not just Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman who I loved, because I was a DC at the time, I am now a Marvel convert, but we had Captain Planet right, who were in his planet teers, and it was the super intentional diverse band of young kids making a difference and trying to figure out how to save the earth, right?


Then even looking forward into more recent movies, with Pixar’s Wall-E, looking at this time, where we have to leave the earth because we’re covered in trash and we were waiting for sort of the robots that are left behind to clean it up, so that maybe we can return. And generations and generations pass, we evolve, along with the technology that we have and we no longer need to come back to the world. And, of course, you know we discovered that there is one single plant, that’s been able to survive, and how can we use this and communicate it to humans so they’ll want to come back. But this is where I feel like all of my stuff sort of leads into this push towards the climate change and not only just climate change, but looking at climate fiction for cautionary tales about the role of what design and the products that we produce, and the trash the results from that, are doing to our planet and how can we inspire our students who are thinking about these ideas to think about it more strategically, to think about it more ethically, but also to think long term about the consequences of the things that we might be producing.


And so, a kind of good summary of industrial design before, but I feel like one of the things that makes me feel very proud to be an industrial designer, is it really is about strategy and innovation and it’s not limited to the physical manufactured products it’s we’re looking at systems and services. And, I think, in truth, for many of us, it really is this sort of optimistic view of how can we make a difference, how can we impact the future and sometimes it’s incremental and sometimes that’s radical, but I do feel like that’s hard, we’re not out here to do, but that said, we do quite a bit of harm. And so that’s where I’m going to get into in just a second.


So, I want my students and I would love for you to walk away from this thinking about on design as a path or industry designed specifically has this sort of responsibility to think about how we can do good in the world, and how they can prevent the most harm. That said, I don’t think that as a profession, we can necessarily just throw it out altogether, because we live in a world that it’s based on not only,

conspicuous consumption and capitalism, which it is, but people from the time we’ve been here have been creators of things and we have been makers of things and we have been consumers of things.


So, it’s one of those considerations I think it’s really important for us to acknowledge that if we’re going to be producing things, how do we produce them in the best way possible. So, looking at some of the impacts of my field, in the fashion industry, transportation and others, it’s really thinking about what we are doing, not only to our planet and to the species that are here, but what are the conditions that we are creating for the societies and the people that are working to produce these things, that are living amongst these things, that are being their population there their whole entire ecosystem is being polluted on based on the products that we are producing, day in and day out.


So, you can look at waterway pollution, you can look at species extinction, you can look at working conditions, you can look at um pay rate all of these things are setting up in equities that we really need to consider, because, you know as Victor Papanek said their professions more harmful than product designer industrial design, but only a few. And so what we really want to think about is how it relates to people, and how it’s ecologically responsible, socially responsive, revolutionary and radical. And so, for me, I really believe that climate fiction as a point of inspiration can come into play, because we can be inspired by the works of those who came before us and the works that are happening now to think about what this idea of revolutionary and radical might be as we’re looking to make a difference in the world.


So, with that I’m going to get into a little bit of overview of a couple of movies, and shows and books that I would love to just sort of preface our activity with. That, I think, will really set this up nicely, so the first one would be looking at some older books and books that have been out for a little while. So, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the books that I read in college. That was the first time that I really started to think about this idea of technology and ethics. This idea of an 18-year-old woman, sort of writing this novel set well before we had electricity available, that set up not only themes of bioethics, but also this, inventing this idea of restarting the heart with electricity, right.


So, this is a prediction of what’s going to be happening in the world, and this is what I consider to be one of the early kernels for me, not only radical imagination, but a cautionary tale of like how that, might things go wrong right.


Jules Verne, often referred to as the father of science fiction, is imagine this idea of how we traverse the globe. So, in 20,000 leagues under the sea we’re talking about this imagining and inventing this idea of a submarine. Something that no one had been able to do before, but within years we’re using it in wars. Fahrenheit 451, really talks about this idea of a second society, conked out on technology, to the point where books become band and knowledge is held captive. But also inventing this idea of earbuds at the time, and while if you’ve seen the great recent movie, this is an updated retelling of it, but, at the time earbuds we’re not a thing and technology was not ubiquitous yet and it was still say it’s not ubiquitous in some ways, now.


If we look at like the Martian, it’s a really scientific telling of how we might colonize another planet and what would happen on in order to in order to survive. Altered carbon is about this idea of encapsulating consciousness and living forever by having your consciousness uploaded to new skins or new bodies. So this idea of a virtual immortality which gives us some pause on what is real, who are we, if we are not ourselves. You know, there’s other books that I really love that deal with themes of climate change as well or post-apocalyptic themes, so you have the hunger games which is a society that is set in the United States, which is collapsed and we broke it into new colonies and each one has their own industrial sort of need.


Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler is also one that’s about this idea of surviving global warming, looking at surviving totalitarian governments, looking at corruption, looking at devastation, looking at the effects of climate change of fire, but also thinking about this idea of survival.


Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale not only sets up a post-apocalyptic world we’re not even apocalyptic is just more dystopian but we’ve given away to a more theocratic and authoritarian regime which has really set back women and people who can bear children, as subjective to the rest of society, as the only like valuable for their fertility. And then enslaving them so that they can essentially keep the population going. So we’re dealing with themes, not only infertility, but also what happens when a theocratic dogma sort of enters into our government and then takes over and then not only that, what sort of power and balances are established there.


NK Jemisin’s book on The City We Became, which just came out like last year. I don’t know if you all have had a chance to read it, it’s literally a parallel so quick so similarly what we’re in now. In terms of, what would be happening after a pandemic, what sort of world would be established, what sort of themes, what sort of beliefs, what sort of on intersections of society? How would we interact with each other, how would we separate from each other?


On the stand, also about climate change.


The giver it’s about a utopia where someone thinks about you know how do we get to where we are today and looking back at history to understand sort of what came before.


And then getting into the things that I love on which is moving pictures, I also like books, but I really like TV and movies. There’s a number of TVs and up shows and movies, that have inspired technology today AR and VR in Black panther you can look at, the Communicator and Star Trek, thinking about minority report and how is inspire gesture-based technology.


Then there’s more, there’s more, there’s more, there’s this idea of the expanse, which is based on the book series or the Leviathan weeks, which deals with themes of colonization, technology access, constructs of race, language exploration and if you haven’t watched it’s on Amazon prime it is exceptional. I love it so much, If you have HBO, I strongly recommend Lovecraft Country, which really not only thinks about themes that relate to, sort of the black American experience in the United States but also dares to give us images of how we might dream and how we might think about getting a way’s out of it. And my one of my favorite characters is Hyppolite, but not only her but her daughter, who dreams of this idea of like, a new character, who travels space and explores new worlds. So inspiring young girls and young black girls and young brown girls to dream about a role in society, where they are creating worlds, is like super super important to me. But then the Onisciente, if you haven’t seen, some of the captions are wrong on here, Onisciente, if you haven’t seen also deals with this idea of drone technologies in Brazil, where we have the utopian society where everyone is surveilled 24/7, and then, of course, there is the oil crisis inspired movies from Mad Max.


If you haven’t seen those, there’s the newer one with FuryRoad with Charlie Staron, but the original one came about inspired by some of the things that were happening in the United States the time, specifically thinking about themes like oil, fighting over fuel, what becomes important, what happens if we don’t have oil, how society shuts down. How does sort of anarchy take over and what sort of things emerge there.


So things like water become super important. Kevin Costner’s, I think that’s his last name, but it’s the water world, we’re really thinking about this idea of climate change and global warming, and this is again the hit you over the head, kind of movie, where the entire planet is flooded, ice caps have melted and land is valuable and the thing that becomes the most important is literally jars of dirt.


And then cyberpunk trilogy, The Matrix we’re really also thinking about this idea of not only technology taking over, but not just technology taking over, but also our ability to want to acknowledge what reality is right. So, Neil has to take the red pill or the blue pill. And I think that we’re in a moment, now where we are still a lot of in denial about what we are doing in terms of the harms that we’re giving to the planet. And you can see some of those things happening in the fall out of our current pandemic as people fight for a former normal, that is not necessarily attainable right now, and we’re so hesitant to just accept what is true and what is real.


And then the Handmaid’s Tale, which I brought up before it’s also was TV series on Hulu, which again is this idea of like what happens in the present day. This was set 1985 and some of the things that I feel like a really for me impactful when I look at science fiction, is what the authors of it, what the creators of it were able to imagine, that oftentimes you hear people say things like “I never could have imagined that that would have happened” you know there’s always this surprise, this shock at the treatment of people, at the devastation of things, of hearing a statistic that just seems so unbelievable but yet, you could have imagined it all along.


So what I really want my students to understand is that they need to be using their radical imaginations to also posit, how the things that they are creating are going to shape and influence society, but also what is that future society they are creating things for.


Right, so not to simplify it but design really is complex, but a lot of times we think about it in terms of the styling of things, like if you ask most people what design is, they’re going to say that it’s about the way things look, but if you are a designer, you know that it really is about wrestling with a lot of issues that deal with race, that deal with society, that deal with ability, that deal with history, that deal with technology materials. All these things right, and I, what I would love to do is make it make that known to more people, the complexity of what we deal with.


But here’s the snapshot of what I have chosen to focus on as a designer. What my three simple things are the environment, education, equity. That comes from my experience as being a black woman growing up in the United States and has to do with my education around climate change, global warming, etc, as a kid of the 80s and the 90s, but it also has to do with this idea of how do we see how do we influence other people to think critically about their role in the world. So, I focus a lot on these three things, that’s what i’ll come back to that after we do our activity, to sort of show you a little bit about on how I’m approaching it through my research.


But these themes dealing with climate change, environmental justice, thinking about bio inspired design or biomimicry, circularity, dystopia and ecotopia’s, are things that I really want to introduce more to our overall design curriculum and it’s something that I’ve been taking very careful effort to introduce into mine for the last 10 years.


The way that steam education as an interdisciplinary act, thinking about how we learn and how we inspire the things that are created in the world, from an artistic standpoint from a technological standpoint, something that’s founded in science, that you’re layering over many different disciplines to understand and move things forward, as opposed to thinking of the syllogized ways that we teach a lot of these different disciplines but reflected with that should be critical pedagogy, that also or having our students, think about how what they’re learning can change their circumstances and the circumstances of others,

for the good, but also to question what they’re learning so they’re not subjects you believing things that are untrue or that are harmful and to be able to recognize those things right. So, and it is about exposing and exposure to all these different, powerful pathways that they can make changes in.


So, for me, discovering design, I felt like I discovered a superpower, because suddenly I was able to articulate my visions of the future like with my hands and with the things that I made. And you know to be able to like absorb ideas about what was possible, and to posit them and put them out in the world as real things. And I think that if we are not thinking about this idea of access to power through education, then we and we don’t expose students to all these different ways that they might be able to take their interdisciplinary ways of being, from their learned lived experiences and move those forward, that’s going to be, we’re always going to have the same power structures that we have now, which is usually white men and power, people with money in power, capitalism ruling the day, the planet being destroyed, us being unwilling to learn our lessons and move forward. And with that I also think that our education, alongside design and always should really be decolonized and really privileged the thoughts, the knowledge, and the histories of all the different cultures globally that work with it.


So, wherever we are, we should be meeting people where they are, we should be learning from, and we should really be valuing the lived history, of all people. And I do think that a lot of times when we read about some of these schools of thought and education, we’re reading through the lens of someone who, didn’t necessarily live through that and it’s an interpreted from the lens of white men, and we can look at that in history books but also shows up in the field of industrial design, as well as we look at some of the textbooks and they’re not, there’s not a whole bunch, there is some. We can look at the textbooks that are written and the ways of doing design, that sometimes can be harmful to the people that we work with


And so with that, themes of equity are also really prevalent in the work that I think about, thinking about the power and agency, how we’re impacting racial justice, gender equity, how we can really help build more equity around health and then hopefully move towards like this liberation and also a utopia for all. And I know those things seem like very wide reaching, but I do think that the only way to get there is to start somewhere. And so I have the power as a design professor to work within my curriculum and with my research and to sort of talk about some of these themes. But it is one of the things where I, students

are very comfortable and very safe in making incremental changes on things. So, what is the state of it now? If I change it 5%, it’ll be a little bit better, right. And we just sort of move forward and that’s considered progress. And so what I think is, we need to like, stop what we’re doing and rethink everything. And I really felt like 2020 was the year that we were all going to embrace this idea, but that didn’t happen.


But so, one of the ways that I do this and I’m going to transition right now to my next to the activity we’re going to do is through this game that we play actually escape, how do I stop my screen share, I am still sharing my screen, this game that I’ve been playing for the last I guess nine months, and I believe that Lesley you came to this workshop, it was with, which was like design features LA, did you come to that one? It was like the feathers and Afro-Rhythms of the future. Where you able to come to that one?


Lesley-Ann Noel: Was that Launee’s workshop?


Raja Schaar: Yes, yes, yes, yes, did you come to that one? Yaay. Yes, so I adapted this game for my class, and it was one the things of climate fiction, so if you bear with me I’m, I have to figure out how to get my,  find my browser my screen, my PowerPoint is too big.


I think I just shut down my PowerPoint so i’m hopefully I can pull it back up because I did have more slides to share. So i’m going to share this new screen, which is our game that we’re going to play in just a second so, give me one second, I’m going to share my Miro board.


Hopefully you guys will participate, I haven’t seen the chat so i’m going to pull that up and I will follow along. So this is the part where you talk and I do less talking, I also want to excuse myself, because I am a terrible typist but i’m going to be typing notes, based on what you say and so I apologize if I misspelled words but, hopefully, you will bear with me and it will be fine. So give me one second, I’m going to share the screen.


See. I do want to find the chat window and that’s something I haven’t been able to find, I have too many windows open, let me find that chat, chat and pull that out.


Alright cool. Si in this portion of my workshop, what I want to do is say that you all can just shout out too,  you do not have to use the chat, I’m going to be trying to look at the chat listen to you and i’m going to be typing words right. So, yay so let’s go through it so I’m going to share my screen, which is Miro board and we’re going to watch a really quick video and then after we do that, we’re going to start the game.


So the video is really introduction, so i’m gonna walk you through how the game is played really briefly so give me one second, I’m going to come over here.


Alright, so, this is a game that’s a world building game that is based on a Lonnie Brooks and the Fathomers, Afro rhythms in the future game, it is a brainstorming game which is, so fun. So we were going to do it. I’m going to play this little video, which is going to get hyped on it right, and this is sort of how I would introduce it to my students. So, this is what we would do, a brainstorming activity as students are starting to do speculative work around for climate solutions. So, my students participate in a class called climates, I don’t even remember, it’s like design disaster in the environment um but the whole point of it was to come up with speculative ideas for how we can address climate change so to push them,

beyond incremental to more radical things we played this game. And it was fun and it’s really quick, we’re going to come up with so many ideas, and such a fast way.


But it’s we’re really trying to not only, come up with ideas, we’re also trying to position them in a world that has tensions that are different from our own, and so it’s going to be evident and just like I’m gonna play this video and zoom in here and, hopefully, when I do the full screen of it, it will be full screen for you.


-Video Plays-


We all have agency over what the future can bring. Each of us individually can shape not only our personal future, but the future that we all live in and the object of tonight is to get you to imagine. We want to get you to get out of the frame of reference of what you think your future might be and get as creative as possible and we’re going to see what we can build using that imagination and speculative thought.


We might come up with some cool stuff. So, there are people who have tension cards, these tension cards are going to establish the parameters of our universe we’re going to choose two cards, let me see raise your hand if you have a tension card, all right, all the way back there.


-More or less black feminists leadership


-Who else has a tension card?


-More or less social justice.


-More or less social justice, so now that we have the parameters of our universe, we have created four multi versus that we can live it, all along the spectrum of those two choices. So now you guys in your chairs, you have inspiration cards all right, let me see what is your inspiration card.




Okay fashion, I like this one, I like fashion, what would be an article of fashion that would give you more black feminist leadership and more social justice?


But also like to have it be reversed like it can make you invisible but also make you more visible.


So, an amplification cloak?


A body suit, what does this body suit do?


It protects you from any kind of harm.


How about a body suit that repels emotional damage?


Oh shit,


So you have a body suit, that when anything emotion tries to come and get you, it repels it.


How could it be dystopian?


Dictators could use it


How so?


If there’s no emotional damage, there is no consequence to society, so if feels like that could be a very negative thing to have a suit


Right, so that could be dystopian. Okay, I need another inspiration and another object.


Queer liberation.


I need an object, object, object, object




You can have a button to change your gender.


A gender shifty button, who’s with that?


The button should be more of like a fluid, its not binary


So, what if the button is just like it just regulates you through your career liberation, its a dial, it’s not a button, it’s a dial right?


Research has shown that we can create alternative memories that heal trauma, and how do we heal the trauma 400 years of oppression, how do we heal any personal trauma that we’ve had individually, collectively, and how do we create alternative memories of the future that pull us in and create resiliency for everybody? So, we see this game as potentially available in schools, colleges I played it with my students.


I like playing it with students, also because, especially your students have your Afro futurism course, they want to be creating their own cards and their own ideas that they’re putting into the game so it’s not just using what we’ve given them, but adding to it, let it become a democracy of the future for everyone available to everyone.


Raja Schaar:

All right, and for those of you that are Sci- fi nerds, anybody know who Ahmed Best is? Anybody anyone anyone anyone know? I’m looking at the chat. Because the first thing I heard when I showed it to my students, the first thing I heard was JarJar Binks, that’s jar jar binks just so you guys know. Which is really cool so he has Afro futures podcast, it’s great so getting into the game so.


So, I went to this workshop last year and I was super inspired by the way, that this really generated, many ideas I only had about the multi-verse but then thinking about how we would speculate on objects that would be in there. So what I’ve done is, I don’t have the cards because they’re likely still working on them, but what I’ve done is, I adopted that, based on what I did, and the interactive workshop that I attended this version on Miro. So i’m going to be sharing a link to this at the end of my talk so everyone can have it, so feel free to copy it. At the end of the workshop that I attended, he was like feel free to adapt it and let me know that you’re adapting it, so this is what I’ve done.


So I’ve done it based on this idea of climate futures we use it as an analysis tool, as well as a world building tool so as analysis tool actually have my students watch a series of, disaster movies, specifically climate fiction movies, which are all you can see a list here if you ever want to look at those, thinking about this idea of like what climate futures are, thinking about Afro futures, specifically related to that thinking about ideas related to speculative design and design fiction so referencing the work of Ann Bleeker as well. So students sort of have a list of resources and things, and then they watch a climate fiction movie and then do an analysis. And the analysis is establishing, what are the tensions present and these films or this book, and mostly films because I like movies, and then, what are the significance of some of the objects there, and what are they inspired by? And so the students sort of use this worksheet, as a way to take notes on the movie right.


So, what they’re doing is establishing what the major tensions of it are, and then also establishing where the world might exist within those tensions. And so, if we’re looking at a movie like Water World we’re talking about maximum climate devastation, you know and minimal access to resources or right. And then what are some of the objects at play there? There’s the dirt on there’s boats right there these objects that also are inspired by the need to transport or need to live. So, the boat becomes a house the house becomes a city right. So, it’s not just a boat, that you just sort of as a recreational vehicle and so they’re using it to take notes, but then we also turn around and use it again, to as a brainstorming tool. So what we can see here, i’m going to navigate, i’m sorry it’s so jumpy when I navigate, close your eyes, if you get nauseous.


I feel like this is so prezzy. So what we’re going to do is this, we’re going to be taking a world, we’re going to be brainstorming what our two tensions we want to have we’re going to be thinking about where the world exists between those two tensions and then we’re going to define what those are, I take notes, and then we start to think about what are some things that were inspired by thos,  right, so if it’s not like a fashion, and students came up with automated kitchen, what would we do with that? And so these are just things that would come up with, so this is the same way, you would leave any sort of brainstorming activity where people are just generating ideas quickly, but now we’re contextualizing them as in a world that is not our own, but we are defining together.


So we’re going to do that and then scroll over to our board, which is over here


my gosh oh keep going oh goodness come on, don’t freeze.


It’ almost there, it’s almost there all right, here.


This is one is for us so um let’s go to our so I have been leaving this one up here as an example for you all, and then this, and now, what you’re going to do is you’re going to drive me to what we are going to be establishing for two tensions, so the pink cards here, are some of the tensions that I have already populated again I usually leave blank one, so the students just fill in whatever they want, as it relates to the things that they’re working on, but we do have, a few here, so what I would love to see in the chat is proposals for what to attendance, we will be using for our version of this game, or you can shout out, the way that I do, it is the first to say something, is ones that get going, to make a quick for this game, if we were doing it in class I would have like a poll or something.


Okay, we got more or less income inequality, so I got that one right that’s tension number one what’s tension number two?



Niesha Ford

Someone said, privacy and public health.


Raja Schaar

All right, I need a second for either privacy or pro public health.


Sarah Rottenberg (she/her/hers)

Public health.


Raja Schaar

Okay, public health, done.


Alright, so this is our world we have income inequality and public health as our two tensions. Now what we need to do is define what do we mean when we say public health, and what do we mean when we say privacy? That’s the audience’s role to participate here and helping us to find that. If you can type it in the chat, shout it out. Again don’t get mad at me i’m very slow typist and I misspell things but i’m going to do my best, that’s what I do.


So I have I’m happy to copy and paste from the chat or just you can just say it out So what does public health look like let’s start with that one.


Niesha Ford

I see free health care in the chat okay.


Raja Schaar

So, we got free health care, what’s healthcare.


Niesha Ford

I see clean water everywhere.


Raja Schaar

Okay, we got preventative measures.



Anti racism.


Raja Schaar

i’m having i’m just going to type Okay, I was trying to copy and paste it’s not working so anti-racism.


Okay, we have oh so healthcare means physical and mental health.


Niesha Ford

Lesley says no fears a bill when going to see a health care specialist.


Raja Schaar

OOooo, no fear of the bill , that is, I feel like for me, that is so critical, i’m always like oh my copay gonna cover this, everyone, I see that one in there to works for everyone.


Niesha Ford

Clean Air came up.


Raja Schaar

Elderly care, clean air, right


Niesha Ford

Free therapy.


Raja Schaar

And that really relates back to this idea of mental health, too, as well, and all these things are mental and physical health can be part of it, like the bill, like not knowing that you’re going to have a shocker of a bill from a mental health standpoint can really help, as well as timely health care, right? What is timely health care?


Niesha Ford

Oh, they said can get it when you need it.


Raja Schaar

Okay, health care, preventative. No food deserts.  It was, I was gonna put no food deserts, which is the opposite right. Okay, elimination of health disparities.


Right i’m going to cut this one off right now, because I want to get into defining privacy. What does it say pain doctors to keep people healthy and even when sick, the maintaining health and i’ll can we get solidarity up there to alright cool.


Maintaining, again, I apologize if I have misspellings, I’m admitting my flaws. So here we go let’s talk about privacy that was gave me the other number one, or if you make any follow me guys, let’s talk about what is income equality and income inequality, whichever one you want to say.


Removal of language barriers on that end of the public health or is that one for this one?


Money by access of different privileges, privileges, but you spelled it correctly, thank you, I’m looking at yours


Gender equity.


Yes, you got no more billionaires.


And what’s the currency, are we talking about USD?


You know all right um, no more unpaid internships yes Okay, this has been my thing, since I was an intern no more on paid internships. When I was an intern, I got paid.


Niesha Ford

Someone said caps on CEO salary


Basic universal income or universal basic income.


Raja Schaar

Okay i’m saying it wrong universal.


Darrell Hite

Yeah, its universal basic income.


Raja Schaar

Okay sorry.


Darrell Hite

No, no problem. They are actually floating with that idea, so, we don’t know.


Raja Schaar

Okay, so no student loan debt.


Niesha Ford

yeah no private land or property.


A global currency, no more economic hierarchy.


I see something about affordable education or I don’t know if that was a comment or just , education for


Raja Schaar


Alright, so I’m going to cut this off right now, just because man, I can’t type that fast. Alright, so um well my gosh okay, redefining skill sets and experiences professional opportunities see if I can copy and paste this, I was not, it was not letting me copy and paste before so when we see if it’s letting me do it now.


There we go I did, I was able to do it yeah, I hope I didn’t miss anything critical here, um but okay so we’re going to move on, so now we know what income inequality looks like we know what public health looks like but where is our world, are we thinking utopia or dystopic, by the way, I love dystopic so many problems to solve.


But utopic is fine and fun, it’s fine, we can be in the middle, as well, so here’s our world. I’m going to move our world, based on the most possible or least possible income inequality and the most possible and least possible public health. So, what I would love for you to do is help me, with giving me numbers and the chat for income equality zero being no income inequality and the maximum income equality would be number five, so this is your opportunity to help us define our multiverse.


Niesha Ford


We’re getting a lot of 2, 1


Raja Schaar


dog, but we have some low numbers here 1.5 1.5 to one okay we’re going to five oh my gosh people okay okay, so you did this, you are, I need more contributions were between either are there and they’re going to go one or we’re going to go five, so the next five people to post in here between either one or five what’s the only ones you have or, better, yet I see are you can do to.


So 11511 we’re doing one so we’re in we’re going to have very little incoming quality, which is kind of like, what we already have right, okay so where should be comfortable here.


Public health, how much do we want to have, let’s see we’ve got 55555 okay I’m going to go ahead and slide over here to the four and a half ish for this so we’ve established our world.


We have no income equality, but we have almost maximum public health, so now we’re going to pick on just randomly, an inspiration and an object, so you can pick any of these things any one of these things will start with inspiration, the first one that goes in the chat i’m going to pick or the first one that gets shouted out we’re going to take an inspiration card and object and we’re just going to spit ball.


Niesha Ford

Raja I do want to be cognizant of time we have four minutes until nine o’clock.


Raja Schaar

Okay well let’s do it, it can happen fast all right, we got elections I got that right so very good to hear.


Elections what’s going to be our object? Aahhh sorry went too far, pick an object, fashion. Done.


Alright, so let’s talk about elections and fashion in a world where we have maximum public health and no income equality, what would an object of fashion say about elections in this world look like?


You can all type in the chat your ideas or just shout them out?


Niesha Ford

Someone said vote by T shirt color.


Raja Schaar

Okay got it. What else would be an object of fashion, in elections, in a world where we have maximum public health access but no income equality.


There are no wrong answers.


Niesha Ford

Someone said in the chat representations protest through clothing, votes are driven by collective blood pressure, measured by wearable device.


Raja Schaar

Okay, I got it I got it.


Niesha Ford

um another person said you vote by your actual quote unquote way of being in the world through your mental physiological and, or mental and physiological measures.


Raja Schaar

Are right um let’s take with there’s one more I’ll take it, and then we’ll wrap up because we have two minutes but okay, so I just want to say we’ve already gotten, in the three minutes some fairly radical ideas of ways to think about this. Ways to think about objects that might exist in a world that it’s not our own future or not dystopic or not based on our own or not, but what the point is, it’s really hard to imagine these new scenarios out the constraints of design, that we might need.


Normally, normally, we reach those things by looking at our current present day, we look at stats with literature, we talk to people, but when you can’t talk to people, how do you imagine and push forward and think about new circumstances, that are really I make things difficult, right? And those things can be really aspirational and that they are aspiring and cool, like seeing a lot, like our science fiction and superhero movies. But it also needs to resonate with what it could do that could be harmful and it really should bare the question, just because we can, ought we? And then give us pause on to what we might create and why.


So that’s it, that’s the whole things, that’s the game. And the game is, for me, was a really great way to break my interdisciplinary engineering students, who were, seem to be stuck a lot of time, on

like coming up with like these new and novel ideas. They would also always want to be like well, we want to prevent destruction and flooding, we just need to update the levees. Which is really it’s a great, what maybe we should be doing that, right, these are things we can we do in the immediate future, but how do we think we’re long term?


And that’s why, for me, using climate fiction or using Sci-Fi as just a discourse around society, it allows people to imagine visually but also like physically, what it looks like, what are the power structures, what is the political will, at that point in time, and this new multi verse, you know? Who are the people or do the different problems that there are opportunities that are present in their world today, inspire us to think in our present day, about how we design.


And speculative design on is really fun, oftentimes we come up with ideas that don’t necessarily need to be made, but really just need to be talked about. And I think that’s okay, too. For other students, they really want to think about things that could be made, and you know pushing forward with technology, or, probably for two years out 2, 4, 10 years out. So, it’s not always something that’s going to be really hard for them to accomplish, but it is a really fun way to, just have design discourse around some really tough ideas in a way that students understand via media, which is something that I understand deeply and I’m hoping that you all do too, but I’m all done. I don’t know if we just want to close the meeting or if we have time for Q and A but I’m here for a few more minutes and that’s it.


Niesha Ford

Well, thank you so much Raja this was really fun I wish we could have play the game for, even longer. I do, I again, I just want to be cognizant of time, so I have posted Raja’s Linkedin in the chat if you want to connect with her on Linkedin. I also posted the Taylor website, if you want to sign up for our newsletter to know about upcoming events. I can also stay on for a little bit longer so yeah if anybody has questions feel free to ask them. I did take down some questions that were.


Raja Schaar

Oh no, that Miro link! I will post that.


Niesha Ford

um but yeah I did take down some questions, if I can read those out of those people are still here, but I know when you were first talking Raja, Mark had a question, he said is industrial design an umbrella term? I’m wondering if technological design is the same or overlaps with industrial design are perhaps under the umbrella of industrial design?


Raja Schaar

um I would say, technological design probably falls under the umbrella of industrial design, but it also bridges between engineering fields right, when you’re thinking about electrical engineering and computer engineering and human computer interaction and all those other ways of creating and generating technology. I feel like the industrial design doesn’t always necessitate technology to be included. A lot of the things that we do can be analog from a fork or spoon. That said, the definition technology, is just things that people make that are tools, so a spoon as a technology, but if you’re talking about technological design from the standpoint of things that are driven by, computers in micro chips that are have some sort of code number two what work or function that are powered by electricity, then industrial designers do dabble and do a lot with it because we design a lot of the devices that house those technologies.


But we, our field does not have to be technology driven. We also use technologies to do design and to communicate our ideas, and to come up and to manufacture the products that we use, but that is not the requirement. So I would say that industrial design has some technological design in it, but it is not a given that technological design is in industrial design. However, research human centeredness, iteration prototyping, and testing, are hallmarks of what we do right. And we can do that in technology, we can do that in systems, we can do that in service, we can do that in products, but those are the things that are, the more important things that define industrial design.


Also, I would say, for me, because there’s always an ongoing debate in what industrial design as. It really is coming up with the design that can be generated to be disseminated to more people. So, whether you want to call it mass manufacturing, mass production, mass distribution, it is sort of coming up with an archetype, of what could be, and then making multiples of them. So if that’s a curriculum, right which is, would you really call it curriculum design, but it becomes like this sort of like, this is what you’re going to start with, and we’re going to send it out.


So that could be a cup, I’m going to make a million of these cups and send them around the world, it could be coming up with an app, right. So UX design or user experience design really came out of industrial design, because it was about creating this one thing that a lot of people could use and making get in the best way possible, with the best flexibility, for the right price point with the right amount of functionality, etc, etc. And looking at also the styling, the interface of the product, object system on and sometimes it deals with a host of things that come together.


Niesha Ford

I did copy down the Miro board link, so if anyone wants to go on the Taylor website after this maybe in like the next week, it will be posted on there, but yeah if anybody has any additional questions, I think, Raja, you said you saw a few minutes if anyone wants to ask any questions feel free.


Raja Schaar

or just comments or anything that you want to share something that you’ve done that’s really cool that I should know about, because I’ll just I’ll turn it into a project for my students.


Darrell Hite

Yeah, Raja, can I ask a question? No a comment. More and more, like i’m seeing like maker space and everything pop up, I’m seeing more consumer base of consumer needs are really dry driven. The design process is me making things more affordable, making things more accessible, to the to the private sector to the um yeah, the private sector more to commercial. Commercial it seemed like, okay, you need designs, because things are being innovated but you now seeing the more private sector or consumer sector now getting involved with it. And that’s what I’m seeing now especially the design process, you see more people getting involved and you say more innovations coming out telling towards the consumer base.


Raja Schaar

Teah, so I would say, like consumer driven design is really what industrial designers, but when I see when lot of the maker spaces and a lot of people who are, creating their own ventures around product ideas and crap and all these things. Is really sort of taking control of the day from like these larger corporations and really generating smaller runs of things that are more customized to the people that are not only creating it, but also the communities that they’re selling it to. And so, you don’t necessarily have to have so much stuff for everyone, it’s really much more specific to, a greater niche audience, but I do think that, from an accessibility standpoint, the maker spaces, have been really great to show the tools for making, and I would encourage them to also have some sort of critical pedagogy or curriculum that has a critical thought of what is the best way to go about doing this, from an efficiency standpoint, from a safety standpoint, but also looking at product lifecycle use, in utility as well. And I think that, that is simple and not to disseminate as well, I teach at a university, but I do believe that universities are gatekeepers to the field that I am in and there’s a lot of instruction and learning that can happen through conversations around the making of things.


So, I do like the idea of people generating your own incomes and coming up with their own ideas, and putting out there and making money on out of it. At the end of the day, we all have to pay our rent.



Darrell Hite

But Raja, I want to say this before going, understand exactly what you say definitely safety and everything is a priority, but it’s just interesting to see the interesting concept people coming up with a with the right.


Raja Schaar

Yeah and imagining there’s not you don’t have to worry about someone funding it, for, if you can figure out how to make it, and make it at the scale, you can either fund it on your own or get crowdsourcing or get donated materials are working collaborate with other people, then suddenly ideas can get out in the world, much faster and things that are important and powerful and needed, don’t have to go through the rigor of being going through a boardroom right. Should I make this or, should I not make it? Would it be read it better and red or blue?


And things can happen much quickly much more quickly, so you can put ideas out get feedback really fast so um no I really like the I really like the agency that maker spaces are giving to communities in general, and also the skills. Skills that can transfer into the workforce that’s the other really fun thing about a lot of the ways that maker spaces are doing is they’re training people on things that they can really make money off of, if their venture doesn’t work out or they can fund their help to fund their venture.


Niesha Ford

Okay, and then it looks like we have a question in the chat as well, so Jimmy asked what tools do you use and the assessment part of design, to make sure we are not compounding problems of race, gender class etc in design? I say that because a lot of times design thinking as designers to do ethnographic interviews without teaching ethnography well, resulting in my opinion, bastardized data sets in order to launch into the other parts of the design process.


Raja Schaar

Yes, yes, so I when we do, we teach human center design, but one of the ways that we really do talk about it is from the standpoint of sort of equity, inclusion, accessibility, the other thing is, I have created I can maybe share in the chat if I can find a link to it, and maybe I can share it with Niesha. I’ve created like an ethical framework and ethical analysis framework over the past year, with one of my colleagues, Chris Viasia and we’re really trying to look at this idea of consequential, deontological, ethics and virtue ethics and how we approach things and looking at all those different layers from race, gender, trauma impact etc to figure out how students might assess existing products that exists and how those might do.

Things but also to think about how they are considering their own approach to design, and so, as part of that students actually are talking to people on about their definitions of good and harm and we’ve prototype this over the past six months and it’s really worked out so really generate some rich discussion, on what people feel is valuable and having those conversations before you start talking to them about design ideas is probably one of the most critical things that has been helpful for them and entering into conversations that verge on ethnography where you’re actually getting into working with folks.


I know there are well established theories and frameworks for design in co creation and co design that have been based and community based in collaborative works in art and education and social work on that it existed for a long time, so I would strongly encourage that you look at those approaches as well, because when we think about, the idea of what we’re really trying to get out with your question is where our power structures reinforce from a designer coming in with your skills and when to do something for you versus really having a conversation about what’s needed in your community, in your world, in your life and then coauthoring the solutions together, where is the is the better way to go about it, when you think about that from a school standpoint, easy to do, out in the real world.



Jimmy Antia

yeah you please share those resources, you spoke about, because what i’m finding is that you know it’s very western educated industrialized developed nation people, going out and i’m one of them and i’ve heard this acronym weird, which is actually Western educated industrialized rich developed nation, and you know socio economically more mobile and then trying to solve problems for people who are not in that category.


And you can see how something like even gender me being you know, a heterosexual man can be compounded I can compound the problem inadvertently um if I wasn’t more aware of my biases and.


Raja Schaar

And that’s why I think, more people need to be educated design, because we do that, or this practice and I was educated in this practice of like oh you’re designing for me go out right um, is because there’s not a lot of trained people who can do what we do it’s a very small field that no one knows about, because what the heck is industrial design, like it doesn’t mean if I say that to someone who’s not industrial designer it’s just like you designed factories there’s literally a mug that says, I design factories, right, people make it it’s a joke.


So, I think we can look, you can look at the resources there’s tons, in fact, if you look on i’m sure that Taylor Center’s website there’s tons of resources, because as you know Lesley Ann Noel, is the queen of that, so definitely look on there. And I can also share, if not Niesha, you should have plenty of them already. But I think the real solution to that is, not necessarily stay in your own lane but there’s two ways diversifying your design team, so that your team reflects people that you’re working with, or don’t you don’t maybe it’s none of your business, you may be only to be going over there, and maybe those people need to be doing their own thing.


And how do you train them how to do that, so they can work for themselves it’s the whole teach a man to fish blah blah blah thing, but that is, I think that that is the way forward. I think that, until we have a critical mass of designers and design, and ethically trained design thinkers, whatever that means, right socially invested design thinkers, environmentally invested design thinkers, who are aware of their own privilege and back off when needed, and then we’re going to have to train our current designers to be able to do that ethically.


But the real way, for it is everyone creates for themselves when they need to, and we have less of this waste, we have more personalized things, we have things that are really wanted and needed in the world, and then also there’s the authorship and the agency and the empowerment that comes in this, creating ideas and putting that out there. So that’s my real thing but yes, there are resources for how to do it better, for now, if you are forced to be in a situation where you are not you don’t share the live experiences of your audience.


I do community-based work, so I work with Latinx youth in North philly. I’m not Latinx, but I am Brown,

and I work with someone who is. So, that really I really give him sort of like the power, instead of helping generate more conversation. That said, I like kids and we like hanging out right. And we all love nature, and we all love technology. So that’s a fun project for me, but I working alongside someone who you know speak Spanish, resonates with the kids. Were partnering with an environmental education center and an English language learning Center that focuses on Spanish on first language speakers so that, together, means that the team that’s working there like respects that relationship, but also we have team members that are present.


I also work with black girls and West Philadelphia to teach technology, wearable technology through dance and coding, on which is really fantastic. I even feel like an outsider because I’m not from West philly, but I did grow up as a young black girl who loved to dance with her sister in the living room right. So, these are and I went to dance class, so I really resonate on so many things, but even then, working with that I work with a Community Center that is based there.


At the Dornsife Center with people who helped establish those programs, that were co-created with the community, the community wanted dance classes, the community wanting more technology classes that community wanted more of this right, and so now we have these young girls doing, but now we have our older, community members who are in their 80s, are taking the movement classes are like what,  we gonna make be able to steam through dance and make wearable technology right and when it’s asked for it that’s when we can work with it.


And then we bridge that out to the middle school, but again, it was something that with some observed, they cared about we worked with them to develop, and customize our approach to that curriculum, so it can be as respectful as possible, so, even if you are of a community doesn’t mean that you necessarily have free reign to start designing with people. You really do have to go about all of these, practices like intentionally and ethically to be the better designer.


Niesha Ford

Okay, so we are a little bit of on time. I did see some more like questions or comments so i’m just going to shoot that to Raja after this and an email and i’ll make sure to post that on.


Raja Schaar

I have a list of books, close the slideshow trying to find them Miro board. I had a whole list of books, that were actually design related not just the Sci-fi books and i’m sorry about that, but i’ll send that to you to Niesha.


Niesha Ford

Yeah that sounds great well, thank you so much this was super interactive and really, really interesting um and yeah Thank you so much, I hope everyone has a great morning.


Laura Murphy

Thank you love it, was excellent.


Raja Schaar

Thanks for participating Oh, I see students.


Hi, I see a student. Hi, hi. Oh thanks for coming on your spring break.


Lesley-Ann Noel

Raja brought her fan club


Laura Murphy

hey I made a pitch 2021, I put it in the chat.


Raja Schaar

Hi, I love the haircut, by the way. I don’t think your answer here fan.


Chrissy Weeks

It was fun thanks for putting it on the Miro Instagram at I thought.


Raja Schaar

Oh yeah yeah and thanks Leslie and Niesha for having me and thanks so much for Sonia and I was really great to have you i’m sorry i’m a fast talker I did try to talk a little bit beginning but,  that’s not how my brain works.


Lesley-Ann Noel

But I want to say thank you to our ASL translators, thank you to the caption, as you know, thank you, I don’t know if mark is still here, but I think he may have gone, but thanks mark for also putting this accessibility on our agenda and we will make everything accessible.


Raja Schaar

And Niesha, i’m gonna send you my slide deck that has books in there, which was yeah that was anyway, but actually no i’m gonna put them on the Miro board, because if people have link to the Miro, they can access it there.



Niesha Ford

Well, thank you bye, bye.

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