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Design Futures

A large group of students pose in several rows on outdoor steps.

The Design Futures Public Interest Design (PID) Student Leadership Forum is an interdisciplinary convening that fosters capacity-building for future leaders hoping to use design as a tool for social equity and positive change in and with historically marginalized communities. Design Futures seeks to:

-build the next generation of leadership in design
-diversify the ecosystem of public interest design in terms of discipline, race, gender, and beyond, and
-curate a national network of thought leadership

This conference is for the next generation of community-engaged designers, planners, and advocates. The Sam Fox School has graciously agreed to support sending 5 students to this year’s conference as well as Faculty representatives. A total of five students will be selected to attend the forum: 2 from architecture, 2 from art and design, and 1 from a different division of the University. Students are selected based on their interest in and commitment to engaged practice in their work. Attention will be paid to selecting a diverse group of students based on areas of study, racial and cultural backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, and beyond.

This year, the forum will be hosted by the University of Virginia School of Architecture and held in Charlottesville, Virginia from Tuesday, May 31 through Saturday, June 4. (It is currently anticipated as an in-person convening, but may shift as the conditions related to COVID continue to change.) The forum consists of multiple in-depth workshops led by practitioners and educators, as well as guided reflections, discussions, and explorations of the host city.

Past student participants have said they’ve benefited from being challenged to think differently about how they connect with communities, their relationship to their own identities, and connections to like-minded peers across the country.

Interested students should complete this application. Registration and travel costs are covered by the Sam Fox School. Additional funding may be available based on financial need. Selected students are expected to commit to participate in all aspects of the Forum and to share their experiences with Sam Fox upon their return.

Applications are due by March 28, 2022. Applicants will be notified by April 15, 2022.

Students who have previously attended Design Futures are not eligible to attend again as participants.

For more information, email Emily Coffman (