Dr. Audra Buck-Coleman is an author, educator, designer, and social design researcher. She has directed, written, curated, designed, authored, and collaborated on numerous design projects including Sticks + Stones, an iterative, international multi-university project that connects stereotyping, bias, and prejudice to current events.

Audra Buck-Coleman speaking at the Bahai Lecture

Photo by Lance Curry

Her research and creative practice focus on social justice design, the ways art and design can create positive change in culture and society. 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. Dr. Buck-Coleman leverages her degrees in journalism, design, and sociology 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. Many of these projects have manifested as exhibitions and experiential designs, co-designed with community stakeholders and framed for local audiences. 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 is currently 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 will also address how to integrate social science research approach into social justice design projects.

The second book is entitled Hate on Campus: How Racism, Liberalism, and the Rise of White Supremacy Shape College Students’ Identities under contract with Taylor & Francis Group with an expected publication date of 2021. Co-authored with Dr. Rashawn Ray, it is one of the first books to look how a Generation Z cohort has been impacted by the exit of the United States’ first Black president, the rhetoric and actions spurred by the Trump Presidency including the resurgence of mainstream White supremacy, an increase national political divisiveness, and a proliferation of racially and religiously motivated hate crimes and bias incidents.

She has presented her research nationally and internationally including the Icograda IEN Conference, the Icograda Design Education Manifesto Conference, the Design Research Society Conference, the College Art Association conference, and numerous AIGA Design Education conferences. Her research and scholarship have been published in books including Developing Citizen Designers, Confronting Equity and Inclusion Incidents on Campus: Lessons Learned and Emerging Practices and in journals including Visible Language and Iridescent, among others.

Dr. Buck-Coleman holds a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Maryland, College Park, an MFA in two-dimensional design from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a Bachelor of Journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia. She has taught on three campuses: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Wayne State University, and most recently, at University of Maryland, College Park, where she held the rank of Associate Professor and served as inaugural director of the graphic design program.