Empowered by Empathy, Community, and Design: Incorporating Evidenced-based Methods and Principles to Improve Scalability, Sustainability, and Equity in the Design Practice


Design can play a fundamental role in community-engaged research initiatives, especially when inclusion and empathy are leveraged and elevated within a collaborative problem-solving environment. This paper introduces a framework for combing design principles with evidenced-based community participatory methods to empower diverse communities to become active agents in identifying meaningful solutions and creating transformative outcomes. Multidisciplinary case studies will be utilized throughout to highlight the fundamental role design plays in fostering collaborative environments built on trust, understanding, and inclusion to facilitate opportunities that can lead to impactful and positive change. Additionally, this study considers the challenges and benefits of forging sustainable and scalable partnerships between institutions and community leaders, and the lessons learned from extensive engagement with diverse community members. Positive outcomes are shared from multiple projects employing intentional design solutions to promote change and activate civic engagement in the current political and social climate.


Jeremy Swanston
Associate Professor, School of Art and Art History, University of Iowa, Iowa, United States

Bernard John Canniffe
Chair, Graphic Design, Iowa State University


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design Education


Community Engagement, Multidisciplinary, Culturally-centered Design, Participatory Design, Design Empathy

Digital Media


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