Transforming Justice: Shifting Power through Participatory Design


As we look for methods to transform harm created by multiple marginalizations, oppression, and unequal access to justice, we must activate the Radical Imagination while embracing historical trauma’s impact. Activating the Radical Imagination through Participatory Design offers advocates and activists a pathway to collectively explore complex legal ideas, histories, practices, and institutions in their social, cultural, and historical contexts. This chapter reflects on navigating wicked problems, entanglements, and complex socio-legal systems, while reflecting on practices and methods emphasizing the activation of participatory design, radical imagination, and trauma-informed design. It offers insights and reflections on how the activation of human agency can transform and repair the realm of the social-legal and harmful systems and institutions. Together, these methods can inform unequitable socio-legal institutions. The field of design is constantly evolving and adapting. Through time, our collective methods, awareness, tools, and techniques that factor into Restorative Design need to adjust to new realities and topics continually. Restorative Design offers a frame through which we can actively work with our students and community partners to create powerful new narratives that envision a way forward from harmful histories. The activation of radical imagination can inspire dialogue to contemplate the world we want instead of the world we have. Participatory Design is a strategy that aims to restore dignity, agency, and equity through the design process. This paper reflects on the NulawLab and our community partners, telling a powerful story of resistance, care, collaboration, coalition building, and survival.


Jules Rochielle Sievert
Student, Interdisciplinary PhD Program, College of Art Media and Design, Massachusetts, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Radical Imagination, Social Justice, Narrative Change, Participatory Action Research

Digital Media


Transforming Justice (pptx)