In 2014, Toni L. Griffin  authored a chapter in the book, Space Unveiled: Invisible Cultures in the Design Studio, edited by Carla Jackson Bell and published by Routledge, describing the graduate seminar she created entitled Design for the Just City at The City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture, now taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Rooted in the belief that design can have an impact on the social, cultural and economic equity of cities, the seminar requires students to examine the unresolved issues of race, equity, inclusion, diversity, and access in urban communities.  Throughout the semester long class, the students are also challenged to connect with their own attitudes and biases about race, inclusion and privilege through class discussion, debate and interrogation of public policies that enable injustice in the context of our own lived experiences.

Over 14 weeks, the students work through several exercises that call upon them to increase their personal awareness about individual cultural biases toward different groups and the social position of others; define the just city via a written and video just city manifesto; analyze possible roots and consequences of urban development policy on urban justice; develop a set of evaluation indicators and metrics to assess design’s impact on urban justice; and analyze a place or neighborhood to determine its “just-ness”.

 The full collection of student manifesto videos can be found on our Vimeo channel. Click the button to check out the videos. You can also read more about the Just City seminar course on Next City and on the GSD course catalog.