Upcoming Events

Beginning in 2018, The Design Forge is an annual 2-day convening of design thinking practitioners, educators, and thought leaders hosted at Elon University. The Forge harnesses design thinking to address different issues challenging higher education and our communications.

Design Forge 2021 was a two-day hyflex, interactive, and collaborative conference designed to support your efforts to cultivate participatory placemaking projects with strategies and networks of support. This year the Forge brought together 23 university & community teams in order to imagine, design, and prototype responses to the question: How might university design thinking efforts help us examine the power-laden processes of place production and cultivate participatory practices of co-creation?

Visit the conference site to learn more about how you can join us next year.


Hear about this year’s Forge from one of our Catalysts.


{Re}Place: Remaking Places and Spaces Together

The featured speakers and workshops leading up to the convening in June follow the themes of Elon By Design’s framework for design thinking.

Priscilla McCutcheon Event Banner: Black Liberation-Revolution and Reconciliation in our Food System
Priscilla McCutcheon

Black Liberation: Revolution and Reconciliation in our Food System
Friday, March 26 | 2 pm

This talk examines the use of Black liberation theology as a framework to understand how some Black people might find freedom through food and agriculture. In this lecture, Dr. McCutcheon will discuss key connections between Black liberation, food, and agriculture, paying specific attention to the importance of “revolution” and “reconciliation”, including why attention to Black liberation theology is called for in our present moment.

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society; The CREDE; and African and African American Studies at Elon. 



Designing for Social Justice Workshop Series

In order to accommodate schedules and preferences, we are offering each workshop twice with both an in-person and virtual option. Visit the GivePulse links to register.

Biased: (Re)Designing for Equity and Social Justice

How can we examine our own biases and dismantle systems of oppression? Implicit bias is a distorting lens that influences the way we think and act in the world. Additionally, all of us have bias whether we are aware of it or not. Workshop participants will frame the role of bias in their own lives, explore the current impact of bias, and generate actionable opportunities for how they might contribute to redesigning oppressive systems in order to foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at Elon.

Designing for Equity: Moving from Cycles of Oppression to Liberation

How might we move from contributing to cycles of oppression towards those of liberation? Participants in this student-led workshop will learn about how cycles of socialization play a role in our lives, actions, and mindsets. They will explore opportunities for unlearning oppressive cycles, generate actionable strategies for transformation, and leave with prototypes for creating more inclusive, equitable, and just places.

Place Based Visionary Organizing & Creating Power and Transformation: Why Detroit Matters?

Richard Feldman – Monday, September 21 – 2:00-3:00 pm

After the Detroit Rebellion of 1967, James and Grace Lee Boggs initiated the journey to redefine revolution for the 20th and 21 centuries.  The legacy and lineage of James and Grace has been committed to creating theory and practice to re-imagine, re-define, and rebuild Detroit from the ground up.  The decades of work on the ground have seen the emergence of community farms, community homes, place-based schools, commitments to the thinking and practices of New work and New Culture, the role of emerging, organic intellectuals and artists and the establishment of liberated zones.  It has been a journey of intergenerational relationships, critical connections, relationship building and the fundamental recognition that the system of racial capitalism, patriarchy, ableism and the destruction of nature are ending.  It is our time to usher in a new epoch in human history and it starts with the simple theme: Change yourself to Change the world.” James and Grace Lee Boggs believed that our work was about governing and place.

Rich Feldman is a member of the James and Grace lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.  He has worked with James and Grace Boggs since he was 22 and is now 72 years of age.  He worked the assembly line at Ford Motor Company for 20 years on the assembly line, 10 years as an elected official and 10 years with the International Staff of the union. He co-edited the book; End of The Line: Auto Workers and the American Dream in 1988.  Rich has been married to Janice Fialka and the father of Emma (31) and Micah (36.   The family is also active in the Disability Justice Movement, Inclusion and consider this work essential to the Next American Revolution.   Check out:  What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love  (Fialka)

Place-Making through Community Gardening

Christine Smith – Monday, September 28th, 2020 – 2:00 pm

In this talk, Christine Smith will discuss the role of community gardening in growing community power. As part of this, she will address the sometimes-contentious relationships that can exist between community organizations, university campuses, city governments, and neighborhood residents seeking to co-create community.

Christine Smith is the Executive Director of Seedleaf, an organization in Lexington, KY that provides horticultural training and supports the practice of gardening and small-scale farming in urban space. Seedleaf values the ongoing re-connection of people to land, the incubation of healthy community interdependence and the cultivation of growers toward the goal of developing a robust local food economy and a just and equitable system of stewardship over urban land. Trained academically as a geographer, Christine has been with Seedleaf since 2017. Her gardening experience is rooted in the sub-tropics of Florida where she grew up and her grandmother’s Kingston garden and menagerie filled with ginep, breadfruit, pomegranates, scotch bonnet peppers, fish, pigeons, chickens and stray dogs. She is most proud of her title as ‘Ambassador of Flowers.’

Designing/Disrupting Place: Making the Invisible/Visible

Josina Vink – Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 – 2:00 pm

In this talk, Josina Vink problematizes design practices and frameworks that emphasize standardized, commercialized and imperialist systems. As an alternative, she brings forward an understanding of collective designing, which acknowledges the plurality of design processes already at play that intentionally shape social structures around the globe. She explores how collective designing might help nurture diverse and inclusive spaces. This talk offers a critical, but hopeful, account of the role of design in and for democratic life at a time of great societal transition.

Josina Vink is a designer and researcher with expertise in health system transformation. She has extensive experience leading and facilitating participatory system and service design processes in health care, government, non-profit and community settings. In her practice, she has developed new services, supported policy change, facilitated shifts in practices across sectors, and led social lab processes. Josina’s research explores how design can create profound and significant change in health care by reshaping social norms and beliefs. She is passionate about building resilient service systems to enable a healthy future for all.