Audra Buck-Coleman (she/her/hers) is an author, educator, designer, and researcher. Her research and creative practice focus on social justice design, the ways art and design can create positive change in culture and society. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Maryland, College Park; an MFA in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art; and a Bachelor in Journalism from University of Missouri. Dr. Buck-Coleman leverages this expertise to research issues of culture, racial and social inequality, identity, social psychology, and social movements. She concentrates this work on the ways art and design perpetuate and can potentially undermine stereotypes and bias. She explores what design has done and can do in terms of closing the distance between our perceived identity differences and advocating for underrepresented groups. Her projects have frequently manifested as experiential designs, co-designed with community stakeholders and framed for local audiences.
She is the inaugural Associate Director for the Changemaker Institute at UC San Diego. In this role, she connects campus members and outside communities for collaborative projects that seek to make the world more just, sustainable, and inclusive. She strives to facilitate positive social change throughout the campus and beyond.
She is also working on two books. The first addresses best practices for community-based, social justice design. In it, she leverages her collaborative projects to addresses issues such as making an impact, assessing impact, conflict management, emotion management, and cultural expectations as well as pitfalls and successful strategies for engaging communities. This book demonstrates how to incorporate social science research approaches into social justice design projects.
The second book, entitled Hate on Campus: How Racism, Liberalism, and the Rise of White Supremacy Shape College Students’ Identities, is under contract with the Taylor & Francis Group and is expected to release next year. It is one of the first books to look how a Generation Z cohort has been impacted by the resurgence of mainstream White supremacy, an increase national political divisiveness, and a proliferation of racially and religiously motivated hate crimes and bias incidents.
Of the 18 collaborative projects she has led or co-led, nine have engaged off-campus partners, two have been conducted internationally, 11 have addressed issues of underrepresented groups, and 14 have resulted in exhibitions. She has taught more than 70 classes on three campuses: Wayne State University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of Maryland, College Park, where she was an associate professor with tenure and the inaugural director of the graphic design program.
Select Recognition & Awards
Selected as UMD Elevate Teaching Fellow
Awarded Design Incubation top award for Teaching
Awarded runner-up for Core77 Design Award in the Professional category of Design Education Initiatives. Also awarded Community Choice award for this category
Awarded Core77 Design Award in the Professional category of Design Education Initiatives
Select Published Writing
Buck-Coleman, Audra, Rashawn Ray. “Envisioning Equity And Inclusion Through Art” in Confronting Critical Equity and Inclusion Incidents on Campus: Lessons Learned and Emerging Practices. Hannah Oliha-Donaldson, editor. Routledge Press
Buck-Coleman, Audra, Cheryl Fogle-Hatch, Robin Marquis. “Bearing witness to the ableism embedded within the pandemic” for The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace on Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic series
Buck-Coleman, Audra, Liese Zahabi. “Case Study: Open Brief” in The Graphic Design Process: How To Be Successful In Design School by Anitra Nottingham and Jeremy Stout. Bloomsbury Press