Committing To The Future In Times Of Crisis

We live in a world of constant crisis. As our design work fails to respond to—and in some cases even actively causes—societal harm, we must push through the hopelessness and cultivate a new set of skills and practices. 

We often talk about how to develop a better work ethic. But what if instead we focused on how to develop a better future ethic and a commitment to designing futures that don’t yet feel possible? 

can we design ourselves out of crisis?

To design better futures, we must be able to imagine them. Imagination not only requires the ability to dream but the ability to forecast how our new ideas can replicate historical harms. This panel brings together designers experimenting with notions of critical histories, pluriversal worlds, and utopian futures to push the possibilities of design. 

Possible Panel Discussion Questions:

+ How do the origins and practices of mainstream design restrict our imagination? 

+ Where do we find inspiration for that which doesn’t exist?

+ How do we heal our relationship with the present to give ourselves permission to dream alternative futures?

#1: Ethic of Imagination

3 thought-provoking panels

With American Sign Language Interpreters and CART Services for Each Panel

Esther (she/her) is a second gen Korean American researcher, strategist, and educator with 10+ years of experience bringing co-design to the fields of public policy, urban planning, civic tech, and social innovation in the US. She is the Owner of studio eyk, and a PhD Researcher and Teaching Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design. Her work focuses on community-based, place-based, and geopolitically-aware participatory practices.

Meet the Panelists

Esther Y. Kang

she/her | Twitter:@estherykang

12:00 - 1:15 pm CT

Christina Harrington (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She holds a courtesy appointment in the School of Design. Christina has several years of experience as a designer and qualitative researcher who works at the intersection of interaction design and health and racial equity. She has worked as a design researcher and UX designer at various companies such as Apple, Lenovo, and Motorola and her research has been published at various venues focused on HCI and design.

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Dr. Christina Harrington

she/her | Twitter: @adapperprof

Arvind (he/they) is a senior user experience researcher at HashiCorp, where his stakeholders think he delivers insights into user experience, but where he actually spends his time creating tools and containers for learning, discovery, and collaboration. He dislikes writing third person bios and would rather you connect with me about systems, decolonization, embodiment, discourse traps, mindfulness, the sociological eye, and eldritch horrors of the modern era. I currently repurpose my professional skills to work towards democratizing rituals, starting with a toolkit at

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Arvind Venkataramani

he/him/they | Twitter: @_arvind

We can’t change the world alone. But when we join collectives, we’re suddenly forced to negotiate numerous interests, struggles, and visions for the future. Because of this, sustaining solidarity requires constant vigilance against power and co-optation. Join this panel for a discussion about the mindsets and approaches of design solidarity. 

Possible Panel Discussion Questions:

+ How do we design resistance into our products and everyday design practices?

+ How can we prevent organizing spaces from becoming exclusionary or carceral?

+ What’s the relationship between negotiation and co-optation? 

#2: Ethic of Solidarity

Lilly Irani is an Associate Professor of Communication at UC San Diego, Co-Director of the Just Transitions Initiative at the UCSD Design Lab, and organizes with Tech Workers Coalition and the Transparent and Responsible Use of Surveillance Technology (TRUST) Coalition. She is an ex-tech worker. She is the author of Chasing Innovation: Making Entrepreneurial Citizens in Modern India (2019) and Redacted (with Jesse Marx, 2021). 

Meet the Panelists

Dr. Lilly Irani

she/they | Twitter: @gleemie

1:30 - 2:35 pm CT

Mariam Asad (she/they) is from Atlanta, Toronto, New Jersey, the Philippines, and Palestine. She is a worker-owner at Sassafras Tech Collective where she works as a designer, researcher, oracle, and facilitator. Previously, she completed her PhD in Digital Media at Georgia Tech exploring alternative sociopolitical frameworks and practices for more just technology design. In her other lives, she has worked with organizers, city planners, elders, cyclists and has had brief stints in industry at Facebook and MailChimp. 

Meet the Panelists

Dr. Mariam Asad

she/they | Twitter:@maaariammmnm

Claire is a design researcher and strategist, who takes a mixed methods approach to learning and achieving objectives. Her curious nature helps her thrive in the world of research, especially while balancing the need for qualitative and quantitive research. The "left-brain" version of herself loves to crunch numbers, run surveys and find patterns in data, while her "people-person" self loves interviewing participants, observing their behaviors and developing empathy for their lived experiences.

Meet the Panelists

Claire Sweet

she/her | linkedin

We often say self-care is an ethical imperative. But how can we expand beyond this individualistic notion of care to build systems of care across our products, organizations, and communities? This panel brings together design professionals challenging traditional notions of care and the type of care work required to sustain ourselves in times of crisis. 

Possible Panel Discussion Questions:

+ How can care become paternalistic, coercive, or weaponized? 

+ How is our care work devalued or erased? 

+ How can care and radical joy be encoded into our products?

2:45-3:50 pm CT

Tamara Kneese is Director of Developer Engagement on the Carbon Reduction and Green Software team at Intel. Previously, she was Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Director of Gender and Sexualities Studies at the University of San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Social Text, Cultural Studies, Media, Culture & Society, and Social Media + Society as well as in popular outlets such as The Atlantic, Slate, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. Her first book, Death Glitch: How Techno-solutionism Fails Us in This Life and Beyond, is forthcoming from Yale University Press. She is the co-editor of The New Death (University of New Mexico Press, 2022). 

Dr. Tamara Kneese

she/her | Twitter: @tamigraph

#3: Ethic of Care

Azra Ismail is a PhD Candidate in Human-Centered Computing at Georgia Tech, where she examines the intersections between data/AI, health, labor, marginality, and design. Her PhD thesis investigates the design of data/AI-driven systems in frontline health, particularly for precarious women health workers providing maternal and child care in the Global South. She draws on feminist and postcolonial perspectives to examine current data/AI efforts and undertake in the participatory design of systems. Her work aims to support more caring futures for workers and communities that have been pushed to the margins on account of gender, class, religion, caste, and more.

Azra Ismail

she/her | Twitter: @azraism

Tyler is a 3rd year Phd at the University of Michigan's School of Information. Her research centers the digital lives of black women and femmes, specifically focusing their online experiences and safety leveraging art/research, black feminist and transformative justice pedagogy. Before entering UMSI, Tyler was a US Peace Corps volunteer, XR Mozilla Fellow and worked in the VR industry in San Francisco. 

Tyler Musgrave

she/her | LINKEDIN

Meet the Panelists

We donated 25% of our live event proceeds to Mochileando🔥

Mochileando is doing much-needed relief work in Puerto Rico due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Fiona.

Let's Design a future we're excited for.

it always seems impossible until it's done.


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3 recordings of thought-provoking panels with practical insights and takeaways

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