The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis will host the twelfth annual Design Futures Student Leadership Forum on campus in May 2024. Design Futures is a leading program in training emerging designers and students in the practice of design justice for the built environment. The interdisciplinary forum focuses on community-engaged design, building capacity for students to harness design as a tool for social equity and racial justice.
Hosted by the Sam Fox School’s Office for Socially Engaged Practice, the forum aims to build the next generation of leadership in design, diversify the ecosystem of public interest design, and curate a national network of thought leadership. The forum’s network includes more than 25 member universities and hundreds of faculty and alumni.
Taught by leading faculty and practitioners, sessions include in-depth interactive workshops, guided reflections, discussions, and tours of local best practices and emerging initiatives. Each forum builds upon the local culture and history of the host university as a site for place-based learning. The school previously hosted the 2020 forum virtually and has been a member of the Design Futures network since 2016.
“Design Futures forever changed how I think about my role in architectural practice and solidified my desire to work in community-engaged design,” said Katie Plum, BS ’25. “I would highly recommend it to any student, whether you’re in a design field or not. You’ll learn so much about the host city and meet amazing friends and contacts from other schools.”
In addition to sending two faculty representatives to the forum, the school will support five WashU students, including four from the Sam Fox School, to attend on behalf of the university. The forum will accept proposals for interactive workshops on community engagement beginning this winter.
The Design Futures Forum is headed by Ezra Kong, BS ’16. Kong is a community-based facilitator and practitioner — as well as the co-founder of Reflex Design Collective — who has worked on projects ranging from facilitating short-term design solutions for homelessness to expanded transit in California.