Omari Souza is a professor of design and design research at Texas State University. Professor Souza was born in the Bronx, New York as a first-generation American and Jamaican descent. Professor Souza graduated from Kent State University as a first-generation college graduate with a Masters of Fine Arts in Design.
Professor Souza’s research primarily revolves around what classes and majors students of color prefer and why. He then used this research to discover what the design industry can do to attract more students of color. In his research, Professor Souza found that students of color preferred social service majors like sociology and psychology. Three reasons for this were:
1) a professor left an impression on a young student
2) the student was drawn to the field because of personal trauma or
3) the student was seeking to help a disenfranchised group.
A theme that resulted from his research was perception. The perception of the design field to students of color reflects commercial capitalism. When asked how we can change this perception, Professor Souza commented that it starts with design professors and organizations questioning what their social responsibility is and expressed concern that classrooms will not be filled in the coming years if this perception remains unchanged.
Professor Souza concludes that you must always first identify your XYZ; your topic of research, research method, and what you’re attempting to understand. This will help you narrow your focus and lessen ambiguity in your work. He also emphasized the importance of involving the target community in designing the solution and that being ingrained in the community is best for the design process. While it is not without its flaws, design thinking puts people in a position to make people think more broadly.
About Omari Souza:
The Hello from the Pluriverse Podcast aims to open up and create a space to have conservations about the pluriversality in design.
This podcast is a project of the Design Thinking for Social Innovation Program at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University.
Executive Producer: Lesley-Ann Noel, Ph.D
Hello from the Pluriverse 2020-2021 Student Team
Hello from the Pluriverse 2019-2020 Student Team