Josef Albers teaching at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, circa 1946
Josef Albers teaching at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, circa 1946


Wesleyan’s Center for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) invites you to participate in a series of workshops focused on design-based approaches to teaching and learning.

Using a collaborative studio model, this series of workshops explores design teaching methodologies and learning competencies. It has been argued that design is uniquely placed to address the needs of twenty-first century learners. In the workshops, we discuss this and debate the status of design and its significance for a liberal arts education. Design pedagogies prioritize systems thinking, active and creative learning experiences, skillful collaboration, contextual thinking, and project-based models. These approaches aim to produce thinkers and makers equipped to effectively negotiate increasing complexity in the scale of problems, escalating demands for interdisciplinary collaboration, and the accelerating pace of technological evolution. In these workshops, we challenge the idea that learning works best when organized from simple to complex. Participants share strategies and consider how they might integrate design pedagogies into their teaching to foster creative confidence, collaborative practices, and contextual thinking.

All are welcome! RSVP to Barbara Adams at


spring 2019 

Making Space: Speculative Design as a Mode of Analysis
Luke Cantarella, Associate Professor of Film and Screen Studies, Pace University
Christine Hegel, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Western Connecticut State University

Designers have developed material practices that respond to intellectual, social and cultural issues in the form of objects, situations, systems, and spaces.  Through the use of speculation, iteration, and prototyping, these practices offer an alternative model of critical thinking not reliant on writing or constrained by the limitations of language. In this workshop, we will discuss the methods for speculative design and how it can be used as a teaching strategy to help students engage with critical issues across the disciplines. In the first hour, participants will work to collaboratively to design spaces for community engagement. The second hour will feature a round table discussion of design pedagogy. Come for one or stay for both. Lunch will be served. See more about their work here and here.

image001.jpg214 Sq. Ft. (Front Facade) University of California-Irvine, CA. Photograph by Luke Cantarella.


The Classroom Is not a Journey to Someplace Else
Susan Jahoda, Professor of Art, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Caroline Woolard, Assistant Professor of Sculpture, University of Hartford

Join Caroline Woolard and Susan Jahoda for a workshop that includes activities to foster collaboration and self-reflection in the classroom. Jahoda and Woolard will work with participants to explore ways they can bring the practice of “asset mapping” from community organizing into the classroom. They will also offer an overview of their forthcoming book, Making and Being, and will share self-reflection worksheets they have created for students to develop awareness of and reflect upon their own learning goals. See more about their current projects here and here.



Fail LARP: A Speculative Queer-y-ing of Failure
Liam Healy, Associate Lecturer, Tutor, and PhD Candidate, Goldsmiths

Starting with Jack Halberstam’s (1998) assertion that success in a heteronormative capitalist society equates to specific forms of reproductive maturity and wealth accumulation, in this workshop we will explore the possibility of failure, getting lost, breaking, mis-using and un-becoming to think its speculative possibilities in education. Given the ways failure is often understood, for example, in training, or rote-learning, where failure is associated with, well, failure… We will attempt to ’stay with the trouble’ of past failures, and make tentative steps to shift and re-evaulate what failure might be. We will not try to fix these failures, but seek other ways to notice and tune into them.

Please bring a memory of a failure with you (or several, if you like).

image006.jpgTracey Moffatt from her photo series, Fourth.




spring 2018 

The Classroom as Active Design Studio
Barbara Adams, Postdoctoral Fellow in Design, Wesleyan University

This workshop will provide an introduction to design as an interdisciplinary practice. Participants will engage design strategies through a series of challenges and collaborative exercises. We start with the premise that learning is a designed activity and experiment with a number of activity-based techniques and reflect on the process. Participants will gain resources, strategies, and valuable insights to help them effectively guide students through a collaborative design process.



Prototyping Learning Environments
Barbara Adams, Postdoctoral Fellow in Design, Wesleyan University

In this workshop, we will explore how design acts as a mediator between people and the activities they hope to accomplish through interactions in and with their environments. Our focus will be on developing the capacity to support skillful collaboration in the creative framing of problems as we move through the design process. Participants will create prototypes of learning environments as a way of assessing complex systems interactions and ways of designing in relationship to that complexity.



Museum of Smothered Selves
Otto von Busch, Associate Professor of Integrated Design, Parsons School of Design

In the final meeting, Otto von Busch will share insights from and examples of the workshops he has used in his practice and research. He will lead a project-based workshop showing how design can move our thinking from objects to systems, from the present to possible futures, and from the affirmative to critical practice. Participants will build monuments honoring unrealized and interrupted lives and think through design to examine the dynamics of rejection, social regulation, and stifled aspirations.