Welcome to Inclusive Design & Design Justice in Practice! We’re looking forward to learning and working with you. Let’s start with some essential information:

Course/Instructor Information

Course Title

Inclusive Design & Design Justice in Practice (Winter 2022)

Class Meeting Time(s)

This class meets in person M, T, W, Th from 1-3 pm ET.

Class Location / Office Location

Class location: Zoom for the first week; Axinn 219 after that
Dr. C’s office: Davis Family Library 250 E/F
Dr. LW’s office: Davis Family Library 221


Dr. Sarah Lohnes Watulak (Dr. LW): sarahlw AT middlebury DOT edu
Dr. Amy Collier (Dr. C): acollier AT middlebury DOT edu

If you email between 9am and 5pm you should get a reply that day, except for Saturday and Sunday. We take these days off from email to recharge and to be with family, so emails sent during that window may get a reply a little later.

Office Hours

  • Dr. LW: Tuesdays, 11am-noon ET
  • Dr. C: Wednesdays, 3-4pm ET

We welcome students to request office hours by appointment as well.

What We’ll Learn About Together in This Course

Inclusive design is intentional, participatory, and iterative design work that supports a range of human diversity, with the goal of counteracting exclusionary, racist, or exploitative designs that pervade our society. In this class, we will learn about inclusive design and design justice through a project-based approach in which students put inclusive design principles into practice in their own project. These inclusive design principles and processes can be broadly applied across industries and design contexts, including but not limited to architectural, technology/UX design, and curriculum design. (Pass/Fail)

We have set specific Learning Outcomes for the course. These are goals we expect you all to meet, although your individual journeys may look different. All activities and assignments will tie directly to these learning outcomes. By the end of the course, we expect that you will be able to:

  • L1: Recognize examples of exclusionary designs in the world.
  • L2: Evaluate and discuss the history of bias and exclusion in a chosen design area, including the harms caused by exclusionary design
  • L3: Explore and develop an understanding of principles of Inclusive Design and Design Justice, including articulating principles and critiques of participatory design. Identify steps toward inclusion and participation in a design process.
  • L4: Apply principles of Inclusive Design and Design Justice to a chose design context and project.

Expectations of Students AND Instructors in Our Community of Learners

We (Dr. C and Dr. LW) will do our best to create a community of learners this semester, and we believe that we are all a part of that community, ourselves included. To help support this community, you can expect us to be respectful of others’ perspectives, to communicate with you in a timely manner, to (try to!) be clear in our expectations, to facilitate discussion, and to help you clarify your concepts related to inclusive design and design justice. Please know that we care about your success in this class and as a student at this college, and we will work hard to support your learning.

We also believe that in order for a community of learners to be successful, we all need to work hard. We expect you to care about your learning, to carefully and thoughtfully engage in class activities, to be respectful of others’ perspectives, to complete assignments in a timely manner, and to communicate with your instructors in a timely manner.

We acknowledge that we are still learning and living during a global pandemic. We all (faculty and students) need some grace from time to time. We expect you to try to meet course deadlines (and those deadlines can actually be helpful as part of time management and learning strategies) but if you have to miss assignments or deadlines, please be sure to reach out to us as soon as possible so that we can work with you to make adjustments.

Course Materials

Required Readings

  1. Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need, by Sasha Costanza-Chock. We chose this book because it presents an intersectional analysis of design and power that includes specific practices that designers can use to work toward social justice. To Purchase: We’ll be using a free, open-access version to read and annotate for many class activities, which you can access here: If you prefer to purchase a hard copy in addition, you can purchase a copy through the Middlebury Bookstore, at MIT Press, or Amazon (hard/soft copy or Kindle).
  2. Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design, by Kat Holmes. We chose this book because it provides an excellent, very readable introduction to key concepts including exclusionary design and inclusive design approaches. To Purchase: This book is available for purchase through the Middlebury Bookstore, MIT Press, or Amazon (hard/soft copy, audiobook, Kindle).
  3. Beyond Sticky Notes: Doing Co-Design for Real, by Kelly Ann McKercher. We chose this book because it provides both a set of values and a set of concrete practices for co-design. To Purchase: This book is available for purchase through the Middlebury Bookstore or Amazon (soft copy, audiobook, Kindle).

Recommended Readings

We may have other readings that supplement the core texts. These books are key texts that delve into topics/areas related to inclusive design. Portions of these texts are provided in the Dig Deeper section of this course site.

Course Technologies

Although this course is primarily in person, we’ll use a variety of technologies for information sharing, in-class activities, and for homework. Below, you’ll find a brief outline of the technologies we’ll primarily use. You can find out more info about how to access and use each of these on the Technology & Tools section of our course website.

Course website on MiddCreate

This is our home on the web. We’ll use the site to share general information about the course, course content (including readings and videos), and instructions for each week. If you have a question about what you are supposed to be doing, when you are supposed to be doing it, or how you’re supposed to do it, go to the course site first.


This is our community space. We’ll use Teams to stay connected and share what we’re thinking and finding. You’ll submit some of your assignments via Teams. Dr. LW and Dr. C will also share key course info (announcements, etc.) via Teams. Learn more about Teams.

This is our social annotation tool. We’ll be using to read and think together about several key texts this semester. Sign up for and join our class group by following the instructions here.


We’ll be using Padlet for an ongoing assignment called the Exclusionary Design Wall of Shame. Padlet is a collaborative, multimedia brainstorming tool; learn more about Padlet.


We’ll be using Zoom for any live remote sessions we will have, including the class sessions in the first week of class. We’ll send a Zoom link before the first day of class.

Course Structure

The course is organized by week. Our topics, readings, activities, and assignments will be spread out over the week. You’ll typically have readings due on Mondays and Wednesdays, with assignments due on Fridays.


You’ll find a detailed list of assignments, activities, and due dates broken down by each week on this course website. It will be your responsibility to go to the website and see what’s due each week.

Pro tip: look through the weekly schedule for each week right now, and write down the due dates for assignments in your calendar/agenda/sticky note board/however you keep track of your assignments.

Week 1 (January 10-16) – Introduction to the Course and Designs that Exclude; Foundational Values and Practices of Inclusive Design and Design Justice (Schedule for Week 1)

Week 2 (January 17-23) – Principles and Practices of Co-Design (Schedule for Week 2)

Week 3 (January 24-30) – Thinking Critically About Co-Design and Participatory Design (Schedule for Week 3)

Week 4 (January 31- February 4) – Project Work and Course Wrap Up (Schedule for Week 4)

Assignments in Brief

There are several ways that we’ll assess your progress toward the learning objectives this semester. For listed submission deadlines, all times are Eastern.

Readings and Annotations

Each week, you’ll engage with readings that lay the groundwork for the theory and practice of inclusive design and design justice. We expect you to complete the readings by the deadlines in the syllabus and come prepared to engage with them in class.

For many of the readings, we are asking you to annotate the reading using a tech tool called Effective annotation involves engaging with the texts and making that work visible through comments on the text or with others’ comments on the text. In your text annotations, you can ask questions, you can make connections to your experiences, you can make connections with other readings or other resources. Your annotations should show us that you are paying attention to and thinking about the readings, and that you are engaging in dialogue with us and your classmates while you do that.

Deadline: by the start of class on most Mondays and Wednesdays

Thursday Participation Assignment

Rather than meeting in Axinn on Thursdays, we are offering flexibility and choice in how you engage in your classwork on that day. This is called the Thursday Participation Assignment. Each week, the Thursday Participate Assignment will have 2 elements:

  1. a project workshopping activity that we’ll assign at the start of the week.
  2. an activity of your choice from the list below:
  • Dig deeper into reading annotations: Engage deeply with other students’ annotations on the readings. Ask questions. Respond to comments. Dig deeper into your own thinking and make connections across readings.
  • Engage with a Digging Deeper reading or video: We offer a bunch of resources for digging deeper in ways that support your learning and your project. If you engage with a reading or video as your second element, you’ll need to provide a brief reflection on that reading/video (can be written, a short audio or video clip, a drawing, a concept map) that connects it to your project.
  • Add an example to the Exclusionary Design Wall of Shame: To help you attune your noticing skills, post examples of exclusionary designs on the Exclusionary Design Wall of Shame. You can post any time, not just to complete this assignment. When you post to the Wall of Shame, include information about what makes the design exclusionary, where these designs are found, and information/ideas on more inclusive approaches to that design exclusion. You can also interact with posts other students have made.

Deadline: Thursday, 11:59pm

Reflective Journals

Reflection as a regular practice helps you to make your thinking and learning visible, and to think about yourself as a learner. Each week, you will be required to turn in a reflection journal that responds to these prompts. There is no word limit, use as much space as you need to *completely and thoughtfully respond to the prompts.

*What does it mean to completely and thoughtfully respond to the prompts? Your writing must demonstrate curiosity about the topic(s) you are exploring and your own thinking and learning about those topics. We should be able to get a sense for what you are learning, what you still need or want to learn, and how you are learning.

Reflection on learning

  • What are the one or two most important ideas, for you, that emerged from this week?
  • What questions remain for you about this week’s topic?
  • What do you understand better as a result of this week?
  • How are you feeling about your progress toward your personal learning goals for this course? Do you need any additional supports?

Reflection on project work

  • How did your project workshopping with your classmates inform your thinking this week?
  • What progress did you make toward your project goals this week?
  • What steps will you take to make progress on your project next week?
  • What supports do you need at this point in order to make progress on your project?

Deadline: Friday, 11:59 pm

ID/DJ Project

The ID/DJ project is an opportunity to apply what you’re learning to a real design opportunity in an area of interest to you (e.g., architecture/built environment, technology, product design, educational experiences, etc.). In broad terms, the project should demonstrate that you understand an exclusion in your area of interest and its history/context, that you created a thoughtful project proposal in consultation with peers and instructors, that you worked with several ID/DJ practices, and that you can show how these practices connect to the design exclusion you identified and to broader course topics.

In short, you will do the following:

  • A Proposal: Submit a project proposal where you identify an exclusionary design;
  • ID/DJ Practices: Put ID/DJ practices into action. For this part of the project, you’ll need to do the following:
    • complete fully and thoughtfully a Table of Collaboration for your design context,
    • do an ID/DJ practice for your project/design, chosen from a list that we’ll provide,
    • identify an additional ID/DJ practice that you would implement in the future and describe in detail how you would implement it.
  • A Final Report: Turn in a final report that describes the practices that you implemented as well as the future practice, and a reflection.

Click here to view the details of the ID/DJ Project and required deliverables.

How Will Your Grade Be Determined in this Course?

This course is graded pass/fail. We have drafted a set of suggested grading guidelines that provide the expectations for the quality and quantity of work that you’ll need to complete in order to earn a passing grade in the course. You’ll find more details about specific assignments, including instructions and requirements for each assignment, in the section below titled Assignments in Brief, and on our course website.

Why are they called “suggested” grading guidelines? Because we would like to invite you to work with us to co-create the final guidelines. We’ll take some time in class to discuss the guidelines and finalize them together.

Suggested Grading Guidelines

Grade of P

To earn a Passing grade in this class, you need to:

  • complete all weekly assignments.
  • participate in digital annotation and discussion of key texts in ways that connect key ideas in the texts, show your engagement with those ideas, as well as connections to your personal experience. Digital annotations can and should also include engagement with peers’ annotations and questions that you have about the text.
  • write reflective journals entries that demonstrate curiosity about the topic(s) you are exploring and your own thinking and learning about those topics. We should be able to get a sense for what you are learning, what you still need or want to learn, and how you are learning.
  • submit all of the components of the final project (the project proposal, the project practices, and the final project/reflection deliverable), and participate in the project workshopping opportunities
  • contribute to a challenging and stimulating class environment through your thoughts and questions. Your contributions and understandings should help your peers learn.
  • have specific and constructive responses and feedback to your peers during workshopping sessions and in project work.

Grade of F

To earn a Failing grade in this class, you need to:

  • fail to meet requirements for a passing grade.
  • submit analysis of topics in course interactions, reflections, and assignments that are superficial, that lack evidence, curiosity, reflection, and self-reflection.
  • not contribute to the class in a way that helps your peers to learn.
  • provide responses to peers that are not constructive and do not contribute to their growth and development in the course.                                                        

How We Designed the Inclusive Design Course

Inclusive design is iterative. This course will not be perfect—ever—but we are committed to hearing your feedback and examining our own designs based on that feedback. Fill out the feedback form or learn more about our ID/DJ approach to designing this course.

Land Acknowledgement

Middlebury College sits on land which has served as a site of meeting and exchange among indigenous peoples since time immemorial. The Western Abenaki are the traditional caretakers of these Vermont lands and waters, which they call Ndakinna or homeland. We remember their connection to this region and the hardships they continue to endure. We give thanks for the opportunity to share in the bounty of this place and to protect it.

Basic Needs Statement

We learn as whole people. To learn effectively you must have basic security: a roof over your head, a safe place to sleep, enough food to eat. If you’re having trouble with any of those things, please talk with us or with your Dean. Together we can work to make sure those needs are met.

Privacy Statement

Your personal data is valuable and important, which is why it is often collected by the digital tools you use in your educational activities, including digital tools we will be using in this class. To better understand how and why your data is collected, the potential risks of this collection, and how to better protect your personal data, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • What types of personal data do you think are collected through your use of digital tools for educational activities?
  • What value does your personal data have for different contexts and entities? Consider how your data might be valued by your instructor, the institution, yourself, and companies.
  • Who owns your personal data, who can sell it, and who can use it?
  • Do you have concerns about how your personal data can be used? If so, what are they?
  • Are there aspects of your identity or life that you feel would put you in a place of special vulnerability if certain data were known about you or used against you?

If after asking yourself these questions you have concerns, we invite you to reach out to us to discuss them. We may not have easy answers to the questions or concerns that you bring to us, but we will happily explore them further with you or find someone more knowledgeable who can help answer your questions.

Relevant Campus Resources

Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research

The CTLR provides academic support for students in many specific content areas and in writing across the curriculum through both professional tutors and peer tutors.  The Center is also the place where students can find assistance in time-management and study skills.  These services are free to all students.  For more information on how to get the help you need, go to

Disability Resource Center*

The DRC provides support for students with disabilities and facilitates the accommodations process by helping students understand the resources and options available and by helping faculty understand how to increase access and full participation in courses. The DRC can also provide referrals for students who would like to undergo diagnostic testing. Students who are on financial aid and have never undergone diagnostic testing can apply to the CTLR for support to cover the cost of off-campus testing. DRC services are free to all students. (*formerly called Student Accessibility Services)