Diversity in Design Classes

Phil Trumbo

First-day group icebreaker

Breakout rooms of 4-5 students discuss and answer these questions.

  1. What is your dream job? Why?
  2. If you were a superhero, what would your powers be? Why?
  3. Are you a sunrise, daylight, twilight, or nighttime person?
  4. If you could choose any person from history to be your imaginary friend, who would it be?
  5. If you had a time machine, would you go back in time or into the future? Why?
  6. If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you choose to be?
  7. What is your best study tip?
  8. What’s your favorite midnight snack?
  9. What things do you want to do to achieve your goals?
  10. What’s one thing you would change about yourself?

I follow up with this video of August de Los Reyes, the Head of Design & Research at Pinterest, who breaks down the role diversity plays in a team’s ability to craft the best design solutions. He argues that diversity is a critical principle, not just a quota to achieve.

Here’s the video of de Los Reyes on diversity.

Identity Exercise: Students in breakout rooms of 4-5 participate in an identity discovery “I am” 10 introspective questions of self-exploration, declaring their true identities. Prompts will include standard demographic data as well as psychographic data- wants, needs, likes and dislikes. Students will present their answers to the class and are encouraged to share their own personal narratives about design interactions and how they may resonate with their own cultural orientations. The goal is self-discovery and classmate connections, discovering commonalities and intersections as well as differences. The instructor can help students understand that design challenges are personal as well as universal.

Diversity in Design Exercise – Student teams will research and discuss how culturally diverse communication styles inform user experience in the design considerations of everyday interactive technology as well as in video games, and present examples of design solutions that demonstrate successful and unsuccessful culturally responsive design. Rubric will include specific questions targeting the role of race and cultural diversity and communication styles in the design field and how design fundamentals differ in diverse cultures, ages, gender, socioeconomic groups, political and religion ideology and languages. Students will explore and present how fundamental design elements such as color palettes, shape and pattern recognition, language, fonts, communication styles and accessibility of technology, particularly mobile communication and media devices, vary in different cultures and affect different design outcomes.

Resources: Students are encouraged to research how demographic information is gathered and how it can be used.

Reading will include this article on Diversity and Design. Students will be required to read and post discussions.

Reading will include The Invisible Designers – Historically underrepresented inventors and designers and showcase their successes, of which there have been many.


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Diversity and Social Justice - Faculty Guide (2021 Edition) Copyright © 2021 by Phil Trumbo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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