2020 Special Focus - Advocacy in Design: Engagement, Commitment, and Action

From person to group, community to culture, nation to globe (and back), what is Advocacy in Design?

Designers of all definitions have long advocated for their respective disciplines, practices, and industries. Perhaps less successfully, designers have also been advocates for a variety of societal issues, communities, and individuals. A considerable inventory of hit or miss awareness campaigns, one-off design build interventions, and templated participatory methods du jour have often times undermined best intentions, further distancing designers from deep seated engagement, longer term commitment, and transformative action — when, where, and for whom it matters most. While misconceptions stubbornly persist as to role, impact, and value of design within social, economic, and political spheres, design could not be better poised to help shape a larger agenda.

Better prospects ahead, recent efforts exhibit a nuanced distinction between service and advocacy proper with stakeholders front and center when envisioning equitable, inclusive, and meaningful communications and information systems, products and services, and spaces and environments. All the while, bigger picture initiatives forge a renewed, sharper focus on multimodal strategies, local to global policies, and evidence supported design action plans (i.e. EU Design Action Plan, UK’s Design Economy, Singapore’s Design 2025, among others).

In this time of great challenges and ever greater needs, will we at last heed to the call for the ushering of a commensurable design ethics? Can we define engagement, commitment, and action beyond self, profession, and discipline to bring about true change, betterment, and at once advocate for a larger good for all?

Plenary Speaker

The Fourteenth International Conference on Design Principles & Practices featured a plenary session by one of the world’s leading thinkers and innovators in the field.

Lorenzo Imbesi

Lorenzo Imbesi

Architect and Professor, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Conference Chairs

Loredana Di Lucchio

Loredana Di Lucchio

Architect; Researcher; Professor, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Lorenzo Imbesi

Lorenzo Imbesi

Architect; Professor, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Anita Cooney

Anita Cooney

Dean of Design, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

2020 Advisory Committee

Constantin Boym, Industrial Design, Pratt Insitute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

David Foley, Interior Design, Pratt Insitute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

Jennifer Minniti, Fashion Design, Pratt Insitute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

Santiago Piedrafita, Graduate Communications Design, Pratt Insitute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

Jessica Wexler, Undergraduate Communications Design, Pratt Insitute, Brooklyn, New York, United States

Emerging Scholar Awardees

For each conference, a small number of Emerging Scholar Awards are given to outstanding graduate students and emerging scholars who have an active academic interest in the conference themes. The Award, with its accompanying responsibilities provides a strong professional development opportunity for early career academics. The 2020 Emerging Scholar Award Recipients are listed below.

​Prajakta Parvatikar

​Prajakta Parvatikar

Rachana Sansad, India

​William Nickley

​William Nickley

The Ohio State University, United States

​Madison Sabatelli

​Madison Sabatelli

The Ohio State University, United States

​Xue Bai

​Xue Bai

Pratt Institute, United States

​Erli Wang

​Erli Wang

Pratt Institute, United States

​Willhemina Wahlin

​Willhemina Wahlin

Charles Sturt University, Australia

​Ashna Kapadia

​Ashna Kapadia

Pratt Institute, United States

Conference Partner

Online Presentations

The development team at the Common Ground Media Labhas been working tirelessly to develop Event -- a next-generation blended conference application on the CGScholar platform -- to support a robust experience. We are excited to share it with you and look forward to your feedback.