Episode 10: Passion, participation and representation, Pt. 1

In this episode of the Thinking through Design podcast, host Adam Fromme sits down with Anne Berry and S. Alfonso Williams.

“So in your mind, whether or not it’s a conscious thought, there’s this idea that, I could do that. Because I’ve seen it modeled before me.” Anne Berry

Their conversation explores the evolving landscape of design education and address the motivations for integrating social and cultural awareness into curricula, recognizing the diverse backgrounds of students, and including societal issues with design. They underscore the balance required to create structured and open-ended assignments and the importance of making students feel seen and valued in the classroom. The conversation concludes with a focus on the broader implications of their teaching philosophies and ends discussing practical steps for educators to nurture diverse voices and foster an inclusive, empathetic learning environment.

Both guests are contributing authors to An Anthology of Blackness, The State of Black Designedited by Terresa Moses and Omari Souza and published by MIT Press. This episode is the first in a two-part conversation to expand the motivations, ideas and reflections within this publication.

Anne H. Berry is a writer, designer, and Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Design at Cleveland State University. Her research examines race and representation in design, focusing on ethnic and racial disparities in the graphic design field. Berry’s work has been highlighted in Communication Arts magazine, Letterform Archive, and Kelly Walters’ book Black, Brown + Latinx Design Educators: Conversations on Design and Race. Her publications include “The Virtual Design Classroom” for Communication Arts magazine, “The Black Designer’s Identity” for the inaugural issue of the Recognize anthology, and she is the managing editor of The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression, and Reflection, a book recognized by Fast Company and the Non-Obvious Book Awards in 2022.

S. Alfonso Williams is a driven pre-med Biology and Psychology major, with interests in the philosophy of science and medicine, physiology, and systems science. Alfonso holds multiple fellowships and leadership roles: member of the Student National Medical Association Inc., fellow of the National Institute for African American Health Scholars, Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Scholars Academy, Cuyahoga Community College Honors Program, Black American Council Metro Campus, and Advanced Leadership Institute.

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