Dissent by Design is the research project of a group of sociologists and design scholars at the University of Colorado Boulder's Program in Environmental Design. We study ways design professionals do political work. Our larger goal is to learn how design professionals use their professions as sites, objects, or tools for social justice work. The aims of this research are:

+ to understand ways architects, planners, and civil engineers organize for social justice causes, and

+ to learn how their political engagement relates to the mainstream of their professions.

Most of our work involves spending time with individuals and groups engaged in political work, dissent, activism, and organizing. We conduct in-depth interviews with designers, planners, and engineers participating in these kinds of work. We retain the anonymity of research participants. This research is approved by the University of Colorado Boulder's Institutional Review Board for research involving human subjects.


Part of this project is supported through the National Science Foundation through a grant (1664260) titled "Engineering Dissent: Moving Political Engagement for Social Justice from the Vanguard into the Mainstream of the Engineering Profession." (But the opinions presented on this site and by this team don't necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.)

Follow our projects, thoughts, and fieldwork @dissentxdesign:

  • Twitter - Black Circle
Architecture Lobby Think-In, New York City, 2018

who we are.

We're a team of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder's Program in Environmental Design. Our backgrounds span Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Sociology. We meet weekly, travel to events together, and reflect on our interviews and observations collectively. Though our focuses vary in studying architects, engineers, or planners, we use the same methods and theories and think about dissent in these fields comparatively. 

Black In Design Conference, Harvard GSD, Cambridge, MA 2017


We're always looking to connect. Feel free to get in touch with questions, ideas for interviews, notifications about events, and to share thoughts about the project. 

Follow what we're thinking about and other project updates on Twitter @dissentXdesign or email us at designprofessions@colorado.edu

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