Barbara Brown Wilson: Design as Activism | Activism as Design

“Community engaged” or ‘public interest’ design is a fast growing subculture within the professions helping to curate the built world. But what the concept truly entails and what community impacts it produces are not well understood. There is a sense that any work done “in the public interest” is inherently good, but it is time to raise the bar on how this work is evaluated and who speaks for the field.

On Monday, March 9, 2015 at 6:00pm at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture, Barbara Brown Wilson will discuss the dialectic between design and activism, considering this subfield’s historical roots, its current manifestations, and its potential impacts. Using her own work creating the Austin Green Alley Initiative as a venue for critical reflection, Wilson will discuss opportunities to increase the rigor of this work in practice and in education.

Barbara Brown Wilson is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia. Her research and teaching focus on community engaged sustainable development and urban environmental history. Her research is often change-oriented, meaning she collaborates with real community partners to identify opportunities for engaged and integrated sustainable development that further goals in both the realms of research and of practice. She also conducts research on methods of engagement and evaluation in community design practice, with a particular focus on equity impacts. Wilson is a recognized leader in the Public Interest Design (PID) proto-movement, and helped found several educational and practical PID organizations, including the University of Texas Public Interest Design Program, the Design Futures Student Leadership Forum, and the Austin Community Design and Development Center.