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DCC's approach to design is grounded in community, leadershipand teaching. This program's mission is to teach design as a productive avenue toward making the world a better place for everyone in our community and the communities we care for. Our community responsibility therefore includes the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of all the workers, students, teachers, neighbors, and companions that allow DCC to serve as a home for designing and creating more just, flourishing, sustainable worlds.

As a program and a community, we affirm our commitment to the following principles:

Of design

  • We seek to understand and model the use of creative design to envision and build a stronger, safer, more inclusive, and just world for all human beings.
  • We champion design practices and principles that prioritize sustainability and the long-term health of planet Earth.
  • We aim to foster design practices and designers that support, sustain, and empower vulnerable communities, especially those most directly impacted by state-sanctioned violence—whether physical, cultural, or economic.
  • We believe it is possible and necessary to center the voices, perspectives, and experiences of those whose lives will be most affected by design processes and outcomes.
  • We believe that by beginning the design process by centering those at the margins of society, we can create stronger designs for everyone.
  • We celebrate design as an active, ongoing, and iterative process, rather than product. We encourage approaches to design that are experimental, playful, imperfect, and provisional.
  • We believe that design is most meaningful and impactful when it integrates the insights and perspectives of multiple fields, backgrounds, and areas of expertise. Design is and should be interdisciplinary.
  • We seek to recognize, amplify, and compensate the labor of all contributors—past and present—in design processes.
  • We believe that design is deeply embedded in history and culture. When incorporated, emergent technologies must respect and honor traditional and indigenous knowledge, rather than seeking to erase, supplant, or co-opt it.
  • We prioritize designing with communities and people, rather than designing for them.

Of community

  • We believe that human connection must be intentionally built and maintained. We therefore prioritize activities, programs, and initiatives that contribute to the overall wellbeing, growth, and depth of our community.
  • We strive to cultivate and sustain a vibrant community of individuals with diversity of thought and experiences. We welcome people of all ethnic, racial, cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds, regardless of sex, gender, nationality, or immigration/citizenship status.
  • We respect and wholeheartedly support each person’s right to determine and declare their own sex, gender, and personal pronouns.
  • We affirm the inherent value of all human beings in our community and in the world, especially Black, brown, and Indigenous people, as well as migrants, refugees, and undocumented people whose worth and belonging are most often questioned in the United States and other white supremacist nations across the globe.
  • We endeavor to hold space for those whose experiences are most often misunderstood, dismissed, demeaned, and trivialized, especially neurodiverse people; queer, trans, and nonbinary folks; and those with visible and non-visible disabilities.
  • We seek to provide events and programs that are safe and accessible for all participants.
  • We believe communities thrive when they prioritize shared responsibility and social solidarity. Whenever possible, we marshal all available resources—material and immaterial—to support individuals in need of financial, mental, emotional, educational, and logistical support.
  • We encourage curiosity and an open exchange of ideas, without tolerating the weaponization of debate that compels vulnerable communities to explain, defend, or relive trauma, violence, or oppression.
  • In partnering with other organizations, we aim to forge bonds that allow for equitable and just exchanges of resources, labor, outcomes, and recognition.

Of leadership

  • Our staff actively work to identify and provide opportunities to incorporate students’ voices, experiences, and expertise in the leadership of the DCC program.
  • Our staff, especially our Director and Associate Director, strive to act ethically and responsibly as leaders and agents of change within the institutional matrix of the University of Maryland’s bureaucracy. We take seriously our roles as representatives of DCC, the Honors College, and the College of Arts and Humanities and aim to persistently advocate on behalf of our students, their learning, and their overall safety and wellbeing, even when such stances subject us to personal or professional risk.
  • Our staff commit to transparency and creating opportunities and spaces for our program’s leaders to openly explain and solicit feedback regarding decisions and policies that affect our present and future community.
  • Our staff work actively toward humility and accountability, seeking to remain quickly and meaningfully responsive to insights, feedback, and critique from those who are impacted by our leadership.
  • In recognition of historical underrepresentation of women and nonbinary people in positions of leadership and institutional power in the academy and higher education, our staff seek to prioritize gender diversity in hiring and staffing. We additionally seek to recognize and rectify when women are disproportionately assigned—whether officially or informally—emotional labor that is typically undervalued, unrecognized, and inequitably compensated.
  • In recognition of historical underrepresentation of Black, brown, Indigenous, and Latinx people in positions of leadership and institutional power in the academy and higher education, our staff seek to prioritize racial diversity in hiring and staffing. We additionally seek to persistently cultivate and sustain a safe environment that values, celebrates, and empowers non-white community and staff members and protects them from both explicit and implicit exercises of white supremacy, racial violence, and racism.
  • We seek to model fair and equitable compensation practices and advocate on behalf of more vulnerable communities (e.g. undergraduate student workers, graduate student workers, contingent faculty) who typically do not receive just compensation for their work. Whenever possible, we avoid reimbursement practices that disprivilege non-wealthy people and, instead, pursue direct payment procedures.
  • We seek to model genuine, intentional balances in work, learning, and living in an effort to subvert unhealthy and capitalist demands on human time, energy, and labor.

Of teaching