A Symposium on Design
Graduate Education

Friday, April 30
9am—4pm PDT, via Zoom
University of Washington


What is graduate design school all about? This one-day symposium is a space for faculty and students to share ideas and ask questions about the future of graduate design education against the backdrop of current social, political, ecological, and economic change. The day will consist of keynote speakers, roundtable discussions, and panels that bring together current graduate students, recently graduated students, and faculty who teach in graduate programs in design.


9:00am (PDT)
Welcome: Organizers
talk 1

Perspectives on graduate education in design
Elizabeth Chin

Matthew Peterson
NC State

Moderator: Audrey Desjardins
Break, free discussion in breakout rooms
talk 2

How’s grad school going? A discussion with current design graduate students
Heidi Biggs
Penn State

Sofía Bosch Gómez
Carnegie Mellon

Ryan Diaz

Kaiwen Yang
Emily Carr

Larrea Young

Moderator: Jeremy Barribeau
Break, free discussion in breakout rooms
talk 3

What should grad school be? A conversation with design faculty
Denise Gonzales Crisp
NC State

Amanda Menking

Will Odom
Simon Fraser

Stacie Rohrbach
Carnegie Mellon

Ron Wakkary
Simon Fraser, TU Eindhoven

Moderator: James Pierce
Break, free discussion in breakout rooms
talk 4

Where are they now? Reflections from design graduates
Nina Paim

David Reinfurt

Maurice Woods
Inneract Project

Jayme Yen

Moderator: Annabelle Gould
Break, free discussion in breakout rooms
talk 5

What’s a PhD in design? A conversation with the organizers of the North American PhD by Design symposium
Ahmed Ansari

Carl DiSalvo
Georgia Tech

Laura Forlano

Lara Penin

Moderators: Audrey Desjardins and James Pierce
Wrap up, free discussion in breakout rooms


Division of Design,
School of Art + Art History + Design,
University of Washington


Audrey Desjardins, Assistant professor in interaction design
James Pierce, Assistant professor in interaction design
Annabelle Gould, Professor in visual communication design

affiliate event

For those interested specifically in doctoral design education, also consider reviewing the documentation of the 2021 North American PhD by Design symposium.

speaker bios

Ahmed Ansari is an Industry Assistant Professor in the Integrated Digital Media program at NYU Tandon. His work and research situates itself at the intersection of design studies, critical cultural studies, and the philosophy of technology, with interests in decolonising knowledge production in design and thinking around how technologies can intertwine with and develop through non-Anglo-Eurocentric knowledge systems and cosmologies. His area focus lies in South Asian cosmologies and practices.
Heidi Biggs is an art and design researcher and a first year PhD student in Human Computer Interaction and Design at The Pennsylvania State University College of Information Science and Technology. Biggs earned a B.A. in English Literature and Master of Design from the University of Washington. Between their bachelor’s and master's degrees they spent time studying and engaging in dance and performance through practice and community involvement in Seattle, WA. Their research and work so far has explored sound, embodied knowledge, climate change and ecological posthumanism, through embodied, wearable technology and noticing practices. They are also committed to exploring making as a form of knowledge production. Their research has been published at conferences such as CHI and DIS, and their work has been featured at On the Boards and Design Trouble Symposium in Seattle, WA and Textile Intersections 2019 in London.
Sofía Bosch Gómez is a designer and researcher interested in the overlap between design, public service innovation and design education. Her research focuses on the role of design and designers within the Mexican public service, taking into account local and pedagogical circumstances in the development of government innovation spaces. Born and raised in Mexico City she is based in Pittsburgh where, as a Teaching Fellow, pursues a PhD in Transition Design at Carnegie Mellon University and is a co-host of the bilingual podcast Design in Transition/Diseño en Transición. She has worked in the Mexican federal government at the National Digital Strategy, and for the Mexico City government at the Lab for the City. Sofía is a Chevening Awards alumna and holds an MA in Design: Critical Practice from Goldsmiths College and a BFA in Design from Concordia University.
Elizabeth Chin is an anthropologist with a diverse practice that includes experimental writing, performative scholarship, and ethnography. Her most recent book My Life With Things: The Consumer Diaries is published by Duke University Press. She is a professor at ArtCenter College of Design in the MFA program Media Design Practices. As the current Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist she works with an editorial collective to bring rigorous generosity to the discipline.
Ryan Diaz is a queer Filipino designer, writer, educator, and Celine Dion fan. His practice explores possibilities in performance, emotional material, and pedagogies of vulgarity, schmaltz, and joy.
Carl DiSalvo is a designer, researcher, writer, and educator. His work explores the political qualities and implication of design.
Laura Forlano, a Fulbright award-winning and National Science Foundation funded scholar, is a writer, social scientist and design researcher. She is an Associate Professor of Design at the Institute of Design and Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology where she is Director of the Critical Futures Lab. Forlano’s research is focused on the aesthetics and politics at the intersection between design and emerging technologies. Over the past ten years, she has studied the materialities and futures of socio-technical systems such as autonomous vehicles and smart cities; 3D printing, local manufacturing and innovation ecosystems; automation, distributed labor practices and the future of work; and, computational fashion, smart textiles and wearable medical technologies. She is an editor of three books: Bauhaus Futures (MIT Press 2019), digitalSTS (Princeton University Press 2019) and From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen (MIT Press 2011). She received her PhD in communications from Columbia University.
Denise Gonzales Crisp is bi-located in Los Angeles CA and Raleigh NC. She is Professor and director of the Master of Graphic Design program in the College of Design at North Carolina State University. She is the author of Graphic Design in Context: Typography (London: Thames & Hudson, 2012), and many other essays published in journals and books. She was co-curator of DesignInquiry: Futurespective (ICA MECA, ME, 2019), and Deep Surface: Contemporary Ornament and Pattern (CAM Raleigh, NC, 2012). She is currently co-authoring a book that promotes improvisational, situational, and circumstantial approaches to design pedagogy.
Amanda Menking is an Associate Teaching Professor at the Information School and the Director of the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design Program, both at the University of Washington in Seattle. As a researcher, she is interested in knowledge production in online communities.
Will Odom is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He leads a range of projects themed within slowness, temporality, and, more generally, the development of new methods for the practice of Research-through-Design. His work has been published at venues including Design Issues and ACM conferences including CHI and DIS. He holds a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, and was previously a Fulbright Scholar in Design Futures at Griffith University (Australia), a Banting Fellow at Simon Fraser University (Canada), and a Design United Research Fellow at Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands).
Nina Paim is a Brazilian designer, researcher, curator, educator and activist. Her work revolves around notions of directing, supporting, and collaborating. She was born in Nova Friburgo 168 years after Swiss settler-colonialists displaced indigenous puris, coroados, and guarus. Love and fate brought her to Basel, where she now seeks to transmute her daily immigrant anger into care practices of making space. She curated the exhibition “Taking a Line for a Walk” at the 2014 Brno Design Biennial, and co-curated “Department of Non-Binaries” at the 2018 Fikra Design Biennial. Nina has served as the program coordinator for the 2018 Swiss Design Network conference “Beyond Change” and she also co-edited its resulting 2021 publication Design Struggles. Between 2018–2020, Nina also co-led the design research practice common-interest. A two-time recipient of the Swiss Design Award, she is currently a PhD candidate at the Laboratory of Design and Anthropology of Esdi/Uerj, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Lara de Sousa Penin is an Associate Professor of Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons School of Design, The New School, where she currently co-leads the Graduate Minor in Civic Service Design. A former director of the Transdisciplinary Design graduate program, she is a co-founder of the Parsons DESIS Lab. Lara’s work centers on service and strategic design, participatory design, and social justice, seeking to explore the agency of design to effect positive social change. Recent work includes the development of a tool for service designer-service worker solidarity and the development of a critical research agenda for service design. Lara is the author of An Introduction to Service Design. Designing the Invisible (Bloomsbury, 2018) and the editor of The Disobedience of Design, a Gui Bonsiepe Reader (Bloomsbury, 2021). Lara has a bachelor degree in Architecture and Urbanism (University of São Paulo, Brazil) and a PhD in Design (Milan Polytechnic University, Italy).
Matthew Peterson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Design at North Carolina State University, where he teaches and advises in the Master of Graphic Design (MGD) and PhD in Design programs. He is one of the two most recent instructors of the MGD thesis preparation course, along with Deborah Littlejohn. Matthew studies complex visualizations and information interfaces in science education and advertising contexts. His current work includes: development of a virtual environment for learning scale and increasing scientific numeracy; identification and development of alternative visualization strategies in science curriculum materials; and eye tracking for readers studying visual displays in science learning or processing visual metaphor in advertisements.
David Reinfurt is an independent graphic designer (BA, 1993, University of North Carolina; MFA, 1999, Yale University). He worked at IDEO from 1995–1997. In 2000 he formed O-R-G inc. In 2006 with Stuart Bertolotti-Bailey, he established Dexter Sinister. From 2006–2011 Dexter Sinister published Dot Dot Dot. In 2011 with Bertolotti-Bailey and Angie Keefer, he founded The Serving Library. David teaches at Princeton University, was 2010 USA Rockefeller Design Fellow and his work is in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Centres Georges Pompidou, and Whitney Museum. David was a 2016/2017 design fellow at the American Academy in Rome. He has written two books, Muriel Cooper (MIT Press, 2017) and A *New* Program For Graphic Design (Inventory Press/DAP, 2019).
Stacie Rohrbach is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Design. She teaches at all levels of the undergraduate and graduate curriculum and regularly advises masters theses. Stacie’s research investigates the design of learning experiences in formal and informal settings and explores the integration of design pedagogy into professional and general education contexts. She actively works with student teams and project sponsors, applying learning theories to contemporary challenges. Stacie and her collaborators leverage design to harness the attention of learners, motivate them to engage in experiences, and aid their memory of lessons learned in ways that are enjoyable and meaningful. Her research projects are published in international journals and conference proceedings and have been supported by National Science Foundation, Qatar National Research Foundation, Fine Foundation, Institute of Education Science, as well as corporate and non-profit grants.
Ron Wakkary is a professor in design in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University where he is the founder of the Everyday Design Studio. In addition, he is a professor in Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Wakkary’s research investigates the changing nature of design and human-computer interaction in response to new understandings of human-technology relations and posthumanism. He aims to reflectively create new design exemplars, concepts, and emergent practices of design that help to shape both design and its relations to technologies. Wakkary is the author of Things We Could Design for more than Human-Centered Worlds (MIT Press, 2021).
Maurice Woods is the Executive Director/Founder of the Inneract Project, an organization dedicated to empowering Black, Latinx and underrepresented groups to pursue a career in design. He created the design education framework which serves as the program’s core curriculum and provides leadership for staff, helps set organization and education policy and develops IP’s strategic vision. A graduate of the University of Washington (BFA and MFA in Visual Communication Design), Maurice played basketball as an undergraduate and professionally worldwide for seven years before returning to UW to earn his master’s degree. As a professional designer, his work experience spans over 15 years across advertising, a design agency, startup and large tech companies such as BSSP, Pentagram Design, and Yahoo and Microsoft. He has won numerous awards for design and community service as well as teaching and lecturing nationally and internationally.
Kaiwen Yang (He, His, Him) is a second-year Master of Design (Interaction Design) student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. As an alumnus from Oregon State University with a degree in Design and Innovation Management, Kaiwen is passionate about implementing his knowledge and skills in architecture and interior design to support the voice of marginalized groups. Kaiwen's practice involves rebuilding historically underrepresented communities based on speculative scenarios. His works are determined to encourage designers and artists to have disciplined empathy for historically underrepresented groups and bring awareness to socially relevant issues.
Jayme Yen is a designer and design teacher interested in how information can be shaped, accessed, and understood. Jayme currently practices design in Seattle where she works on projects for the arts and culture sector. A graduate of the Yale School of Art GDMFA program, she went on to intern at the Walker Art Center and afterwards studied/worked at the Jan van Eyck Academie in the Netherlands. She was a creative director at Schema Design, an information design studio, and head designer of the Henry Art Gallery, a museum. She has worked on or participated in design exhibitions in The Netherlands, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic. Jayme is a co-founder of the Seattle Art Book Fair and teaches publication design and information visualization at the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design. For the past year she has been teaching digital workshops that explore ways to map ‘Zoomspace’.
Larrea Young After completing her degree in Fashion Design and Textile Design at Indiana University, Larrea founded her own studio creating designs for clients doing good in the world. This work quickly led her to partner with a startup company working to end infant death from hypothermia. Larrea joined the company as their Lead Designer and COO, and designed an incubator blanket that provides safe, non-electric warmth to vulnerable infants. After taking the incubator blanket through the regulatory stages and into the market, Larrea had discovered a passion for collaborating with stakeholders to address large-scale problems. She decided to return for her MDes from the University of Michigan, where she has honed her skills as a human-centered designer and worked to build more equitable and sustainable food systems. She continues to collaborate with a diversity of clients from USDA WIC to Natural History museums to small nonprofits, creating designs that help improve the lives of others.