EP 31: Designing for Social Change | Penina Acayo Laker


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Penina Acayo Laker is a graphic designer, researcher, and Assistant Professor of Communication Design at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research and creative practice explore how human-centered, research-driven design methodologies catalyze unique ideas to address complex societal challenges facing communities in St. Louis and Uganda. She has collaborated on an award-winning project that used simplified iconography to communicate ailments associated with the spread, prevention, and treatment of malaria in Kibera, Kenya. Penina earned an MFA in Visual Communication Design from Kent State University and a BA in Art from Goshen College. As a component of her MFA thesis, she developed a secondary-level design curriculum that was inspired by the paucity of design education in Uganda. This subsequently inspired the creation of DesignEd Uganda workshops that Acayo Laker organizes and facilitates over the summer to equip young people with skills in design and creative problem-solving. Penina is also the faculty advisor for a new minor in Creative Practice for Social Change that exposes students to processes designers, artists and architects use to address systemic economic, environmental and social challenges.

Bon and Penina discuss learning to design for the true needs of people, bringing design education to youth in Uganda and the value of design in healthcare.

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