Design Accountabilities Project

This project seeks to understand how design expertise and practices can become more accountable to both the local communities they serve, as well as the interconnected ecologies of work embedded within design firms themselves. We draw on work engaged with The Architecture Lobby, Tech Workers Coalition, worker-advocacy organization Turkopticon, and TRUST Coalition.

Public Platforms Project

This project asks how the platform-mediated economy can be accountable and beneficial to workers and users. With United Taxi Workers San Diego, Metropolitan Transit System, and Democracy at Work Institute, this project develops a public-private partnership to provide ADA-accessible, democratically governed taxi transport as a first-last mile solution from transit hubs. This project was recently awarded part of a $1,000,000 California Employment Training Panel SEED Grant and $300,000 from the Kauffman Foundation to study community-driven entrepreneurship.

One page fact sheet

Policy report by UTWSD and Design Lab: Transportation for Smart and Equitable Cities: Integrating Taxis and Mass Transit for Access, Emissions Reduction, and Planning


Data Infrastructures: Extraction, Monopoly, and Place

This project examines contemporary corporate monopolies, such as Amazon, to understand how monopolistic data infrastructures differ – or repeat – the material extractivism and exploitations of large corporations from recent history, such as US Steel. What Ford did for the car, US Steel tried to do for the house, and Amazon is currently doing for machine learning. How do ecological destruction, labor displacement, and hierarchical assemblages of expertise figure in one and the other? What are the continuities and discontinuities in the modes of racial stratification, capitalist organization and worker resistance to these infrastructures? How do designers and communities variously respond to the challenging material requirements and consequences of emplacing data infrastructures?

HCI Ways of Knowing Beyond Design

Smart cities governance requires communities, governments, and technology providers to develop shared understandings of oversight, accountability, opportunities, and harms. This project organizes support for emerging smart cities governance efforts to discover new forms of HCI research and collaboration to support governance when designing systems de novo is not an option. Activities we hope to conduct at UCSD include GIS spatial analysis, public records requests, holding community forums, and convening with public officials.

HCI Tactics for Politics from Below: Meeting the Challenges of Smart Cities. Proceedings SIGCHI 2021.

Policy report: Broken Promises of Civic Innovation: Technological, Organizational, Fiscal, and Equity Challenges of GE Current CityIQ

Policy note: How Secrecy Leads to Bad Public Technology

Decolonizing Regionalism

UC Humanities Research Institute Multi-Campus Faculty Working Group

​​Theorizations of place have long pointed to the disjunctions between political and physical boundaries, complicating the task of understanding multi-scalar phenomena, from suburban sprawl to climate change. Somewhere between the scale of the site and the scale of the territory lies the “region”: a productively ambiguous term that subsumes notions of geography, ecology, economy, planning, and jurisdiction. But how did the region obtain such a diverse following? Where does its legitimacy as an epistemic category come from? And what are we to make of it as a tool of expertise, most prominently in discourses of development for the so-called global South? From projects for colonial “improvement,” to technocratic state planning, to bioregionalist ambitions of ecosystemic balance, to decolonial projects of self-governance and autonomy, regionalism often appears as the one constant—albeit unexplained—variable. This working group will revisit regionalism as a heterogeneous and contested discourse encompassing geopolitical relations, economic frameworks, social formations such as race and ethnicity, ecological processes, and myriad articulations of technical expertise. What does this particular enclosure—of both spaces and knowledges—do to, and for, historical processes of colonial and decolonial upheaval? What can critical spatial histories of regionalism contribute to theorizations of decoloniality—and vice-versa?

Developing Tools for Situated Planning: Technology-Oriented Community Engaged Learning and Critical Spatial-Decolonial Practices

Changemaker Fellowship Grant (Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió with Dr. Mor Shilon)


In collaboration with community partners Global Action Research Center, Logan Heights Community Development Corporation, and Bread & Salt gallery in Logan Heights, this project critically engages with present-day technological transformations in cities and decolonial theory to develop new tools for situated planning that center issues of colonialism, racialization, Indigenous technologies, and environmental justice. The project follows a Community-Engaged Learning method where students of USP184: Decolonizing Design work in collaboration with Logan Heights (San Diego) residents.

Nature, Space and Politics V: Border(ings), Refusals and Regenerations (2020-2021)

Funded by the International Institute, UC San Diego

Directed by Matilde Córdoba Azcárate, Matilde & Zilberg, Elana and graduate students Kerry Keith and Joseph Moreno

This year NSP continues with our thinking on the forging of alternative futures by engaging the epistemic violence of spatial abstractions (space and nature) and the formulation of feminist and decolonial strategies of thought and practice to processes of bordering. We propose to focus on political strategies of refusal and regeneration as we maintain a strong critical ecological focus and expand our shared interest in the situated attention to urban infrastructure development and place- making practices in geopolitical contexts shaped by borders (physical, symbolic and affective).

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