Dr. Brown Wilson believes that the problems impacting the public interest design world can only be addressed through the collective action of design professionals, educators, and students. She supports programs that encourage students to expand their interest in public interest design. By encouraging student leadership and allowing students to become active in decision-making processes, Dr. Brown Wilson hopes to transform the educational design system to better serve both communities in need and young professionals aspiring to make a difference.
Many educational design programs for young adults often lack the beneficial long-term relationship that comes from working with a community partner. Because most programs are limited to a semester, students are not able to fully participate in the emotional and intellectual learning that is involved in lengthy public interest design projects. Instead, Dr. Brown Wilson supports educational programs that sustain long-term goals and relationships between community partners and students.
In 2013, Dr. Brown Wilson co-founded the Design Futures Student Leadership Forum, a five-day gathering of students, educators, and professionals from various disciplines. This annual event brings together individuals from across the country to discuss issues relating to social design. The Forum consists of workshops on social justice and civil rights-centered design seminars led by experts in a number of fields. Participating institutions send five students and one faculty member each year to participate in the Leadership Forum. Not only does the forum give students the opportunity to have their voices heard, but also allows faculty members to refine skills relevant to their curriculum and professionals to share their work.
Outside of the classroom, Dr. Brown Wilson’s work includes authoring Resilience for All: Striving for Equity through Community-Driven Design, and co-authoring Questioning Architectural Judgement: The Problem of Codes in the United States.
Currently, Dr. Brown Wilson is an associate professor at UVA, where she has co-founded an exciting center that co-produces research with local residents to redress racial and social inequities
We had a chance to speak with Dr. Brown Wilson about her work on Social Design Insights. Learn how social design is taught, and how it can be taught better.