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Thursday, June 8 • 2:30pm - 2:50pm
Design, but with borders back home: A Pathway to Explore Horizontal Design

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In our paper, we will reflect on our teaching pedagogies as two female creatives and educators from two different parts of the Middle East. Our undergraduate experience allowed us to learn and understand from the opportunities given to us while pursuing our MFA in the United States and enabled us to shape our teaching methodologies to become more student centered. "Controlled structured design" is what we call our undergraduate educational experience. As undergraduate students, we had little to almost no freedom in choosing our topics or audience. Due to the endless social, political, cultural, and religious topics considered "taboos," our countries' systems and rules limited our design education. In college back home, design educators come to the class with project sheets where the instructor has already decided on the project topic, target audience, and deliverables — leaving students with no space or freedom to direct their own project. Living in a region surrounded by wars and several issues affecting human rights, we desired to reflect these events within our design work. This was strictly prohibited, and instead we were working on superficial topics far beyond the reality we were living in. This affected our perception of design.

While pursuing our graduate studies in the United States, we were first introduced to "Horizontal Design" in our program and coursework. The horizontal design methodology is a decolonized process where people from communities are directly involved in the process providing their input and making decisions about how they want themselves and their culture to be represented in the design (Cornejo & Rufer, 2020). This was an opposite approach to design that we had never experienced in our countries. Using Horizontal methodologies, we learned how designers could be part of more extensive conversations. This encouraged us to bring critical topics to the table. We were given a chance to discuss topics we feel passionate about that can alter people's lives and lived experiences positively.

Today, as two assistant professors in design at different universities in the United States, we encourage students to work on topics they are passionate about and want to impact change. Our classrooms are fueled with inclusion, acceptance, and collaboration that we missed as students in our home countries. We value using Horizontal Design methodologies in our assigned projects and exercises—giving students the freedom to choose topics and the audience they feel connected while enabling them best demonstrate their unique design skills and abilities within a solution. In addition, this allows for distinct topics to be put on the table and discussed. As design educators, this significantly affects the classroom environment and nourishes creativity within students' minds. Design students should be allowed to be part of any discussion, reflect their opinions, hopes, and ideas, and be trusted to be a transformative force in society. Our paper also reflects on the projects we worked on with students, which are multivocal and inclusive, using Horizontal Design and Co-design methodologies.


Shaza Jendi

Visiting Assistant professor, University of Florida, United States of America

Samira Shiridevich

Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Thursday June 8, 2023 2:30pm - 2:50pm EDT
Main 210