Ashley Moon

MDes in Integrative Design

Zine-making as Social Action: Integrating Design and Self-Authorship in Civic Learning

Traditional civic education is not taking advantage of potential design resources when preparing high school students, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth, in learning to see themselves as change agents – people who believe that they have the ability to transform society. Civics curricula of secondary schools that cater to historically marginalized communities tend to be hindered by district requirements, a lack of access to resources like design tools and techniques, and time limitations. These constraints limit teachers, students, and their communities’ access to civic knowledge and participation.

This thesis aimed to develop, test, and evaluate a pilot zine-making workshop toolkit to elevate creativity and student voice around civics and provide accessible, low-cost resources that are easy for teachers to implement. This toolkit, composed of guided activities and materials, serves as a supplementary resource to Equitable Futures, an existing project-based teaching and learning program for high school students in social studies to explore and understand the impact of social injustices in their local region and connect historical learnings to their own lived experiences.

In collaboration with Equitable Futures, two high school teachers, and students from Arts Academy in the Woods and Fordson High School in Metro Detroit, this thesis deployed a cross-disciplinary, integrative design approach that combined design-based research (DBR) from the field of education with co-design from the field of design to inform the development of a collaborative teaching and learning intervention in a local high school civics classroom.

Assembling a collage at Equitable Futures Youth Forum (Photos courtesy of University of Michigan School of Education)

Two students participate in the zine-making workshop at Youth Forum (Photos courtesy of University of Michigan School of Education)

Zine-making Workshop Process

Participant observation during the pilot workshop in Mr. Moss’ civic class at Arts Academy in the Woods (AAW).

Mindmap Remix activity

Students making zines during the AAW pilot workshop.

Students, teachers, and community members stopped by AAW’s student-led “Teen Zine Showcase” to share their zines.

A collection of zines made by students at Arts Academy in the Woods (AAW) in December 2019.

On May 31, 2019, students and teachers from around Metro Detroit gathered at the Equitable Futures Youth Forum to address “What can we do now to create a more equitable future?”