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Heather Snyder Quinn

Assistant Professor of Design Futures, DePaul University in Chicago

Heather Snyder Quinn

Heather is usually where she “isn’t supposed to be.” You will find her playing in unexpected places, physical or virtual, and collaborating with people from an array of backgrounds. Her work uses design fiction to empower communities to imagine possible futures and understand technology’s impact on human freedoms. The World Economic Forum, MIT Press, Yale Law School, The Washington Post, Hyperallergic, and NASA have recognized her work. Currently, she is editing Technologies of Deception, a publication bringing together art, design, technology, ethics, futurism, and policymaking. Outside of her work in academia, Heather is a mother of two daughters.

Co-creating Matriarchal Design Futures

Education Symposium


August 25, 2023

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM


Presenting with Ayako Takase, IDSA

What would happen if a matriarchal design pedagogy was considered, our patriarchal training was unlearned, and we abandoned solutionism for unknowing—replacing humancentered design (aka design for consumption) by genuinely designing for the pluriverse? What would happen if we smashed the podium and instead created a non-hierarchical, non-linear approach to learning? Might we see that the lonely ladder to the top—the competitive, elitist approach to design study and practice could be abandoned for something more caring and restorative? And if we begin this at the root—at the very beginning of our students’ studies—can the field change from singular and privileged to more open, collaborative, and anti-exceptional? Can we make design school and the design field feel welcoming to all who desire to be there—not just those who already fit in? Is it even possible to de-couple design from whiteness, consumerism, capitalism, growth, and competition?

In this workshop, we share Matriarchal Design Futures—a non-capitalistic, non-hierarchical pedagogical framework that simultaneously prepares students for success in the workplace—centering the practices and values of caregiving and nurturing, which holds for all identities: for caregivers, mothers, those who are not mothers, women, men, and nonbinary alike. Having previously conducted this workshop in higher ed (USA and Germany), we seek to expand awareness and collective contribution (including industry practitioners) by sharing our journey and co-facilitating with our open-source workbook, engaging participants in reflective prompts to imagine new futures together. All participants become contributors to the ongoing publication.

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