Design Consequences: Taking responsibility for our ideas

Design Consequences: Taking responsibility for our ideas
Sep 24, 2021

Design Consequences:  taking responsibility for our ideas 


The Stuckeman School in conjunction with the Rock Ethics Institute is hosting a virtual symposium Sept. 23-24 that will explore how architects and designers in related disciplines can gain a better understanding of the impact the built environment has on shaping society’s inequalities, how the decisions they make as design professionals have consequences, and how they can help bring about better social equity in an increasingly polarizing world.

The event, which is being produced and recorded by WPSU, will feature a series of lectures in which speakers will discuss their work and thinking on topics of social equity and the built environment. This will be followed by roundtable discussions in which the speakers address methods that can bring social equity thinking into the classroom as well as professional practice of design. Speakers will present their talks virtually and talks will be recorded. Lectures and roundtable talks will be collected in an event catalog.  This event is free and open to the public, and registration is not required. To learn more, and for the link to join the symposium, please visit

Lectures / Roundtable 1: Designing for a just society

In the first panel, speakers will discuss means by which we can design for a more just society. This panel will propose methods to increase awareness of how injustice is generated and perpetuated and examine both policy and built-environment solutions towards needed social change.

The ensuing roundtable will explore how these questions should be addressed in the classroom: How can architectural and design programs innovate to help students learn to design for inclusivity?  How can we best bring ethical practices into the field of architecture and design? How can students transitioning into the workplace continue the quest for more inclusive design? How can we design the built environment to foster social equity?

Lectures / Roundtable 2: The Consequences of Technology

In the second set of talks, speakers will examine how to better understand and predict consequences of technology on equity in the built environment, as well as their approach to integrating ethics in the field of technology and design. How can technology be designed to improve lives, how can such improvement become more equitable, and how can we better measure success in these endeavors?

The ensuing roundtable will explore the questions: How can we ensure that the technology we develop and use benefits all members of society? How can we avoid unintended technology consequences? How can we design technology for more inclusivity and social equity?

Symposium speakers include:

  • Antwi Akom, professor and founding director of the Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab — a joint research lab between the University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco State University that focuses on combining culturally- and community-responsive design with new digital technologies in order to increase racial and spatial justice and improve health equity.
  • Catherine D’Ignazio, assistant professor of urban science and planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and director of the Data + Feminism Lab.
  • Rayne Laborde, associate director of cityLAB UCLA, a design research center concentrated on urban spatial justice.
  • Andrea M. Matwyshyn, associate dean for innovation and technology, professor of law and engineering policy and founding director of the PILOT Lab, a policy think-tank at Penn State.
  • Lily Song, assistant professor of race and social justice in the built environment at Northeastern University, whose work focuses on infrastructure-based mobilizations and experiments that center the experiences and insights of frontline communities.
  • Ife Salema Vanable, founder and leader of i/van/able, a Bronx-based architectural workshop and think tank, visiting professor at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the Cooper Union, visiting scholar at the Yale School of Architecture and doctoral candidate in architectural history and theory at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.

The Design Consequences Symposium is a Stuckeman Research Symposium organized by Alexandra Staub, professor of architecture and an affiliate member of the Penn State Rock Ethics Institute. Funding for this event has been provided through a Racial Justice, Anti-Discrimination and Democratic Practices Grant from the College of Arts and Architecture, the Harold K. Schilling Memorial Lecture on Science, Technology, and Society endowment of the Rock Ethics Institute, the Stuckeman School, the Department of Architecture, the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing and the Hamer Center for Community Design.