The oppressed drawing their body inside a screen.

Designs of the Oppressed

Designs of the Oppressed is a free online course offered by UTFPR, in partnership with the Design & Oppression network and Andifes. Andifes contacted UTFPR and several public universities in Brazil to offer online courses on Brazilian culture, science, language, and education with the purpose of strengthening their internationalization strategies.

  • The International Virtual Mobility Program “Destination Brazil” is open to anyone affiliated with any university in the world. Students of any level, professors, researchers, or technicians are welcome.
  • Designs of the Oppressed might be of interest to people working in Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Computer Science, Information Studies, Art, and Education fields
  • The application deadline for all courses is from May 31st to June 30th, 2021
  • Since it is a free course and the number of seats is limited to 50 places, we encourage potential students to apply as soon as possible
  • There are no pre-requisites for attending the course

After subscribing, Andifes will contact your international office to assure your seat. You will receive an email confirmation no later than July, 5. There are dozens of other courses in the “Destination Brazil” program beyond this one. Check the full course catalog to learn what other Brazilian universities are offering to the international community.

Course format

  • Dates: 15/07/2021 – 26/08/2021 – Thursdays 11:00 – 13:00 (GMT-3).
  • 6 dialogues of 2 hours each spread through 6 weeks, supplemented by course readings (50 pages per week on average), and one final written reflection assignment.
  • The course will run through a Discord server where students will be able to interact with lecturers and other students through several text and audio channels. Online whiteboards will be used eventually. Video conferences won’t be used so that the course becomes accessible to participants with limited internet connections.
  • The dialogues will be recorded and made available to those who are not able to attend. Dialogues will be conducted in international English with diverse accents.
  • Those who are not able to speak English will be encouraged to write in the text channels, with the eventual help of automated text translators.
  • Students will be able to reflect and compare their experiences in fighting oppression to those presented by guest lecturers.

Course summary

This course shares the accumulated experience of the Design & Oppression network, weaved by educators and professionals who refuse to take part in reproducing the oppressions studied by Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972) and Augusto Boal in Theater of the Oppressed (2000). The course will begin by summarizing the colonial history of design in Brazil, discuss other forms of oppression, and finish by availing the possibilities of designing for liberation. Guest lectures and conversations held by the network members will represent the variety of situations in which designers face oppression in Brazil. Beyond describing how the social issue manifests in Brazil from multiple perspectives, the lectures will show that Brazilians also have advanced pedagogies, theories, and practices to deal with that.


Bibiana Oliveira Serpa is PhD candidate in Design at ESDI/UERJ. She is co-editor of the International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice and Peace. She is an organized feminist militant and a social educator at the Universidade Livre Feminista, a popular education initiative focused on promoting political education among women belonging to social movements in Brazil. She has experience in participatory projects and design for community emancipation in different locations in Latin America. Her research associates participatory design approaches to politicization actions within social movements and seeks to understand ways for an engaged design practice having as reference popular education and anti-racist and anti-capitalist feminism.

Eduardo A B M Souza is graphic design professor at Instituto Federal de Pernambuco (IFPE) and PhD candidate at Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), Brazil. His current research elaborates critical pedagogical practices for graphic design education in the form of workshops autonomously organised by students to foster autonomy and politicisation. Also interested in design theory, philosophy of design and media theory, his previous publications discuss the status of form in design. He also writes and translates texts on design, besides working as graphic designer and illustrator.

Frederick (Fred) van Amstel is Assistant Professor of Service Design and Experience Design at the Industrial Design Academic Department (DADIN), Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR), Brazil. His PhD thesis, accepted by the University of Twente, maps the contradictions faced by architectural design and service design in contemporary practice. Instead of eliminating them, expansive design harnesses contradictions as a source of change. Several articles on this topic have been published by international journals like Design Studies, Digital Creativity, Strategic Design Research Journal, and Building Research & Information. His recent research deals with the contradiction of oppression and the possibility of designing for liberation through decolonizing and hybridizing design. 

Luciana Perpétuo de Oliveira is a PhD candidate from PPGDesign at PUC-Rio, where she is also a collaborating professor in Graphic Language and associated to LINC Design (Language, Interaction and Construction of Meanings/Design Laboratory). She works mainly in the third sector: at CECIP-Centre for Popular Image Creation, where she works as a project advisor for urban interventions in art and technology in Oi Futuro’s programs aimed at managers and educators in the public school system. She also represents CECIP in the communication campaign for a Global Curriculum of Social Solidarity Economy, mobilizing the Education Network with Adolescents, and integrating the NAMT Center for Studies and Experiments in Memory, Art and Technology. She also works for Aprendiz Cidade Escola, the ACESSE Contemporary Art and Education in Synergy Program at SESI, training teachers to develop pedagogical practices in schools, deepening the STEAM approach and its interface with the SESI Education Network curriculum. At the Fayga Ostrower Institute, she is a member of the board’s advisory board.

Marco Mazzarotto is a designer, filmmaker, musician, NGO TETO volunteer, and professor at UTFPR. He has a degree in Industrial Design from PUCPR and a Master and Doctor of Design from UFPR. He researches and works in the areas of participatory design, social innovation, critical design, and design pedagogy. As a designer, he has worked in ​​communication projects both for large companies such as HSBC, GVT, Renault, Unicuritiba, as well as for various artists, cultural projects, and NGOs in the Curitiba area. For the Federal Government, he was responsible for the Brazilian International Humanitarian Assistance visual systems for new civil registration documents (Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates). As a volunteer for NGO TETO, he works in diagnosis, community development, and construction of emergency housing in precarious communities in Paraná. As a filmmaker, he wrote and directed the short film Fala, scheduled for release in 2021. He believes that Design cannot and should not be just a tool for the perpetuation of a society full of oppression and guided by unbridled and unsustainable consumption, but rather a factor generating improvements and transformations in all aspects of our lives. He firmly believes that can only happen through critical, horizontal, and participatory design approaches.

Organizations involved

Design & Oppression is a network founded in 2020 to promote solidarity between all the struggles against oppression that, in one way or the other, puts design into question. This network extends the Latin American critical thinking that is already known in Education, Arts, and Sociology to Design. In addition to actions aimed at training critical designers, the network also promotes concrete and continuous social actions. The network has 376 subscribed members, 20% of them are professors, 46% students, and 33% design professionals, spread across several regions of Brazil and other Latin America nations. The network promotes weekly online meetings in Portuguese through a Discord server. This online course is the first attempt to internationalize the network and extends its reach beyond Latin America.

Federal University of Technology – Parana (UTFPR) is a higher education institution with over 110 years. From its start in 1909 as a Technical School targeted at low-income students, UTFPR has grown to become the first Brazilian University of Technology in 2005. Throughout its history, the University kept focused on Technology, with the aim to create solutions for problems that affect the Brazilian reality. UTFPR is spread through thirteen cities in the state of Paraná. It sums up to 33000 students and 3800 staff, distributed among 109 undergraduate programs, 58 master programs and 12 PhD programs, as well as specialization, and extension programs. Regarding International matters, the University has over 145 cooperation agreements with over 30 countries. It offers 86 double-degree programs and other possibilities to the academic community, such as joint research projects and exchange programs. For more information, check its international office.

The National Association of Directors of Federal Higher Education Institutions (Andifes) is responsible for negotiating agreements between federal public universities in Brazil. This institution plays a key role in defending free public education against the several political onslaughts that attempted to privatize public universities in Brazil. The institution sees internationalization as a strategic step to strengthen research and education partnerships.