My research endeavors are centered on contemporary practices of community-based, public interest design, which embraces issues of social equity toward marginalized audiences. My work seeks to understand community engagement in design practices that promote a transparent and productive dialogue between designers and communities in an effort to support triple-bottom line goals of social justice, economic development and environmental conservation.

With the imperative that design must move towards a paradigm of sensitivity to the needs of underserved people, places and problems, we must first understand the implications of this work, its affects and the success and shortcomings of designed outcomes. Evaluation and assessment across the fields of design is at the heart of this research.

This area of study manifested in a multi-year research endeavor culminating in the 2007 international design exhibition entitled, “Substance: Diverse Practices from the Periphery,” which I curated, organized and designed. A result of the Substance exhibition, I have since come to work with Bryan Bell of Design Corps on the interdisciplinary public interest project entitled, SEED: Social, Economic, Environmental Design®. A highly collaborative effort, SEED proposes an evaluative tool for the diverse disciplines of design. My 2009 research sabbatical was devoted to developing SEED content and tools: I co-authored the SEED Evaluator, a design assessment tool, and the SEED website, the primary distribution source for all SEED content.

Since 2010 I have edited and released subsequent versions including SEED Evaluator versions 1.0 and 2.0. The SEED Evaluator version 3.0 was released to the public March 19-24, 2013 as part of Public Interest Design Week hosted by the University of Minnesota College of Design, the headline event of which was the thirteenth international Structures for Inclusion conference. My research is further supported through outreach through the SEED Network promoting a greater understanding of the impact of public interest design in the Public Interest Design Training Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Office of Executive Education from summer 2011- summer 2013. The mid-August 2012 announcement of Call for Projects for the SEED Field Guide publication edited by Bryan Bell and I seeks to demonstrate best practices in social justice design projects. This work continues to mature and evolve in 2014.

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