Community-Engaged Design


Community-engaged design starts with community, either place-based or as a group of people brought together by common cause.  

Community-engaged design integrates design processes, community participation, and social responsibility to address real-world challenges and promote positive change while placing an emphasis on collaborative creativity and ethical principles of engagement. In community engaged design, designers (including design students and educators) work closely with individuals, groups, and organizations to identify and understand local needs, aspirations, and issues. Through active collaboration and dialogue, the design process becomes a collective effort where diverse perspectives and knowledge are valued. This model of designing encourages empathy, cultural competency, and a critical understanding of social, economic, and environmental contexts. It relies on critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills while fostering creativity and innovation.  


Community engagement; Community-engaged design (CEnD); Design build; Community-engaged research (CEnR);
Community based participatory research (CPBR)  

Advising Team

Susan Melsop 
William Nickley 

Current Students Working on the Project 

Dominique Flaksberg 

Profile Description and Preferred Qualifications

- Candidates must have experience engaging with a community that is not their own 
- Candidates must enjoy being and working with others 
- Candidates must demonstrate critical self-awareness 
- Preference for candidates to have design experience or formal design training 

Relevant Journals 

Design Studies 
Design Issues 
She Ji 

Relevant Publications 

Barcham, M. (2022). Decolonizing public healthcare systems: Designing with indigenous peoples. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, 8(4), 454–472.  

Cipolla, C. (2018). Designing for vulnerability: Interpersonal relations and design. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, 4(1), 111–122.  

Costanza-Chock, S. (2020). Design justice: Community-led practices to build the worlds we need. MIT Press. 

Huybrechts, L., Dreessen, K, & Hagenaars, B. (2018). Building capabilities through democratic dialogues. Design Issues, 34(4), 80–95. 

Hyysalo, V., & Hyysalo, S. (2018). The Mundane and strategic work in collaborative design. Design Issues, 34(3), 42–58. 

Lenskjold, T. U., Olander, S., & Halse, J. (2015). Minor design activism: Prompting change from within. Design Issues, 31(4), 67–78. 

Melsop, S. (2019). Pedagogical strategies for social impact design: Designing with the PopRua. In Cumulus Conference Proceedings, Bogota, Columbia 2019. 

Nickley, W. (2021). Practices of making: Exploring design-based making within Positive Youth Development. In M. Botta, & S. Junginger (Eds.), Design as common good: Framing design through pluralism and social values, 1086–1106. SUPSI, HSLU, swissdesignnetwork.  

Phillips, R., & Abbas-Nazari, A. (2022). Fostering natural world engagements: Design lessons and issues from the my naturewatch training program. Design Issues, 38(2), 47–63. 

Proulx, S., Melsop, S. Caution Roadblocks Ahead! Hosting a Design Driven Social Innovation Lab in a Research-Intensive University in Cumulus Conference Proceedings Paris 2018. 


de la Rosa, J., Rueker, S., & Nohora, C. G. (2021). Systemic mapping and design research: Towards participatory democratic engagement. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, 7(2), 282–298.  

Relevant Community Engaged Design Work

Overview by Surdna Foundation 
Design Matters in Brazil  
Design Matters with TRANSIT ARTS 
Voices of Franklinton 
CoDe Rainbow 
Local Tech Heroes