The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Womxn in Design (WiD) is honoring International Womxn’s Day 2021—Monday, March 8—with International Womxn’s Week (IWW), a full week of programming involving students, faculty, alumnae, guest speakers, and social justice organizations, under the shared theme of GRASSROOTS. This year’s theme was, fittingly, brought to life during a “village meeting”—a bi-monthly gathering open to the GSD community, in which members, participants, and visitors alike contribute words of importance to them, with “grassroots” emerging as a unifying interest.
“There is a larger conversation we have in academia around what the role of design is in addressing systemic issues of injustice, and yet, I don’t think we ask ourselves enough about what our roles as community members are—as collaborators or facilitators in the process of shaping space—beyond our institutions,” says WiD Co-Chair Brittany Giunchigliani (MLA I ’21). “This week of events addresses the need to breakdown perceived barriers between academic work and grassroots organizing, while also advocating for building intimacy and care among each other.”
The series kicks off on Monday March 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET with a workshop led by the Design As Protest (DAP) Collective exploring the intersectional roots of International Womxn’s Day. DAP members will also guide participants through the Anti-Racist Design Justice Index, which provides a framework for tracking accountability and guiding concrete actions. This event is open to current faculty and students.
The IWW Keynote Address takes place the following evening when Ananya Roy, professor of urban planning, social welfare, and geography at the University of California, Los Angeles and founding director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, presents “Undoing Property: Feminist Struggle in the Time of Abolition.” The event is free and open to the public, and registration is required.
Other events include the symposium “Parity Talk: What’s Good?,” a collaboration with ETHZ + EPFL + TU Munich + TU Wien; a negotiation workshop led by Ming Thompson of Atelier Cho Thompson; an informal lunch and lecture with Catherine Seavitt Nordenson; and an event on advocacy within the field of design co-organized with the GSD’s African American Student Union, AfricaGSD, and Notes on Credibility, and featuring Diane Jones Allen, Toni L. Griffin, Azzura Cox, and Pascale Sablan.
Throughout the week, those local to Cambridge can view the exhibition GRASSROOTS on Gund Hall’s Cambridge Street and Quincy Street facades. The projection will be screened nightly from 4:00 PM – 11:00 p.m., beginning March 7 and ending March 14, 2021.
Despite the challenges of virtual programming, WiD saw this as an opportunity to engage with a greater variety of speakers and reach more poeple than in years prior. “IWW 2020 included some of the last in-person programs we at the GSD attended before the school closed,” says WiD Co-Chair Shira Grosman (MLA I AP/ MDes ULE ’21). “So this year, IWW feels both bittersweet and a wonderful opportunity to expand what and who IWW encompasses. With the theme of GRASSROOTS, we were empowered to reach beyond the GSD and partner with organizations like Design as Protest Collective as well as international institutions to build a broad, intersectional and collaborative network.” Co-Chair Junainah Ahmed (MArch I ’23) agrees: “Through intersectional discourse we can begin to deconstruct current paradigms of oppression in academia.”