Student and University Involvement

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University faculty and students attending the 2nd Annual Design for Freedom Summit at Grace Farms on March 22, 2023
Join the Movement | Bring DFF into the Classroom

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Colleges and universities are responsible for teaching students to think critically and act responsibly. To prepare them for a changing world. To be problem solvers. By integrating Design for Freedom into the university experience – you are pushing each of these objectives forward.

Design for Freedom can equip the next generation of leaders to include fair labor inputs into their new and existing means, methods, and processes in order to create transparency and a more equitable future.

left: Patricia Saldana Natke’s class visiting Grace Farms from Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UI-UC); right: a UI-UC student presents at Grace Farms during the Future of Materiality: Ethical and Equitable Material Sourcing

Engagement with Colleges and Universities

Partnerships with colleges and universities invest in the pipeline of future leaders and incubators of innovation and change. To execute against this, Design for Freedom:

  • Engages with faculty and administrators in engineering, architecture, law, public policy, and business schools, providing opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning and engagement.
  • Collaborates with membership organizations with the breadth and reach of students across the globe to work closely with the next generation of workers and leaders in respective fields.
left: Head of University Involvement Karen Kariuki and Sharon Prince at the University of Tulsa; right: Karen Kariuki, Sharon Prince, and Dean of Collins College of Business at The University of Tulsa, Kathy Taylor. The University of Tulsa-Friends of Finance-Executive Speakers series featuring Sharon Prince
, October 2023

By the Numbers | Design for Freedom in Colleges and Universities

25,000+

Professionals, industry leaders, and students reached since 2019

75

Student attendees representing 23 universities attended the 2024 Design for Freedom Summit at Grace Farms

3

Dedicated classes about Design for Freedom led and developed by Working Group members at Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Yale University

100+

Presentations and lectures given to professionals, students, and the public about Design for Freedom since 2019

More than two dozen universities have engaged with Design for Freedom, including:

Watch a Webinar Presented by Grace Farms Foundation and Pratt Institute

Grace Farms partners with higher education institutions to provide a range of resources, including webinars focused on innovative tools in the movement toward building humanely and lessons learned from other industries in the fight against forced labor.

left: Sharon Prince presents Design for Freedom to Yale students taking the Provenance of Materials class taught by Working Group Member and Co-Founder of MASS Design Alan Ricks; right: Sharon Prince, Alan Ricks, and students. January 2024

Get Involved with the Design for Freedom Movement

Apply for an Internship

Join our team! We offer a limited number of internships to students.

Inquire about an internship

Tour Grace Farms

Visit us to learn about ethical and sustainable practices through our tours, educational programs, and pop-up talks. Approved for AIA CES 1.5 LU.

Register for a tour

Request a private tour

Attend Virtual Office Hours

Bring your questions and have an open dialogue around responsible material sourcing with our team on the first Thursday of every month.

Register for Office Hours

left: Grace Farms CEO and Founder Sharon Prince speaking at the Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies at The Catholic University of America; right: Sharon Prince and Julio Bermudez, Professor, Catholic University, Walton Lecture Series, at the Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies 

Bring Design for Freedom into the Classroom

Host A Lecture | Offer a Course | Enter ACSA Competition

Host a Design for Freedom lecture

Our team and a number of working group members are available to provide an in-person or virtual lecture about the Design for Freedom movement. Lectures are often a pathway to either substantiate a proof of concept or demand for a class, or to modernize existing curriculum with another lens.

Offer a Design for Freedom Course

To date, three universities have offered courses exclusively focused on Design for Freedom, and many others have embedded elements of the movement into existing courses.

Example Courses:
DARTMOUTH | TUCK SCHOOL OF BUSINESS | First Year Project

We are partnering with a team dedicated to examining Design for Freedom strategy during a ten-week project.

Learn more

YALE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE | Advance Design Studio: Provenance & Possibility

Spring 2024 | Alan Ricks, Louis I. Kahn Visiting Professor, and Abigail Chang, Critic and Architect

The concept of provenance delves into the origins and narratives encapsulated within the materials and products deployed in construction. Provenance presents architects and builders with an extraordinary opportunity to make ethical choices that are not just sustainable but deeply meaningful, leading to transformative impacts in our built environment.

While the notion of provenance is often associated with art ownership, it resonates within architecture and construction as well. The “Ownership history,” as described by Christel Force, Metropolitan Museum of Art associate research curator, posits that “objects have a life from the time they are created, with provenance tracing their biography. Provenance is the lives of objects and their owners, wrapped into one.”

The studio will investigate provenance through various lenses, including how it advances ethical sourcing and labor rights, the inextricable link between social and environmental impacts, and the opportunity to champion the value of craft.

Learn More

ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY and UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA CHAMPAIGNE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE | The Future of Materiality: Ethical and Equitable Material Sourcing

Spring 2023 | Patricia Saldaña Natke

The Seminar Course will analyze the ethical and social dimensions of building materials. The current global supply chain includes over 45 million people around the world still working under forms of coercion, with over 70% being women and children. A $150 billion dollar industry of forced labor and forms of human trafficking are still in existence. The class will trace the supply chain of many commonly used building materials, among them brick, copper, drywall, stone, and timber. Through research on material production, procurement and construction techniques through an ethical lens, the course will add to the architectural movement of material transparency and awareness, including future material sourcing industry certifications. The seminar will include readings, discussions, guest speakers, and an optional trip to the Design for Freedom Summit in New Canaan, Connecticut on March 30, 2023. 

PRATT INSTITUTE | Innovative Tools in the Movement Toward Slave-Free Buildings

Fall 2020 | Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder of Grace Farms, Dr. Harriet Harriss, Dean of the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute, Susan Jones, Principal Architect and Founder at Atelier Jones Architecture, Chris Sharples, Principal at SHoP Architects, Michael Green, Principal at Michael Green Architecture, Phillip Bernstein, Associate Dean at Yale School of Architecture

Although human rights advocates have begun to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of forced labor in construction projects around the world, the use of raw and composite materials produced by forced labor in the built environment largely continues with impunity.

What is modern slavery? What is an ethical building materials supply chain? Many architects and designers work to ensure a building is sustainably built, but are they also ensuring it is ethically sourced?

This panel will begin to explore how the architecture, construction, and design industries grapple with these questions and how these industries might better use digital models, design-to-construction integration tools, big data, and analytics to ensure ethical building materials supply chains.

Learn More

YALE and the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LAW SCHOOL | Ending Modern Slavery in the Built Environment

2021 – 2024 | Phillip Bernstein, Yale School of Architecture Associate Dean and Professor Adjunct, Luis C.deBaca, Faculty, University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, and Former Advisor to Grace Farms, and Doriane Meyer, GLC Postdoctoral Associate Fellow, Lecturer in Yale School of Architecture

Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Course between Yale University and University of Michigan Law School, 2021-2024

Learn More

YALE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE | Fighting Slavery in the Building Materials Supply Chain

Launched Fall 2020 | Phillip Bernstein, Associate Dean and Professor Adjunct and Lecturer and Luis C.deBaca, Lecturer, Former Senior Advisor to Grace Farms, and Ambassador (ret.)

This seminar operationalizes recent statutory and regulatory changes in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia that extend enforcement of laws against forced and child labor into company supply chains. Drawing on law, business, and sustainability practices, we seek to incorporate an anti-slavery ethos into the architectural design process for the first time. Multidisciplinary teams of students from across Yale’s professional and graduate schools “slavery-proof” a particular input or process in projects that the architecture students are working on in their studio classes. This class was supported by Grace Farms Foundation

Learn More

To inquire about a guest lecture at your college or university, or learn more about offering a course, please email Karen Kariuki.

Enter 2025 Design for Freedom and ACSA Competition

Registration deadline: April 9, 2025

Grace Farms is partnering with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) to announce a student design competition for the 2024-2025 academic year. The competition is intended to challenge students, working individually or in teams, to explore how architectural materials research and design can eliminate forced labor in the building materials supply chain – to explore and propose how architects can work to eradicate forced and child labor from the built environment.

Learn more about the ACSA’s 2025 Design for Freedom Competition: Ethical and Equitable Materiality to End Forced Labor

Incorporating Design for Freedom Principles into University Building Projects

We invite university partners to integrate Design for Freedom Principles into new buildings, renovations, or retrofit projects. This can be as involved or as light touch as makes sense for your team. To begin this process, we invite you to utilize our open course materials and tools:

Design for Freedom Pilot Projects

Pilot Project teams accelerate the movement by raising awareness of the pressing humanitarian issue of forced labor in the building materials supply chain. Together, Grace Farms Foundation and these Pilot Projects are modeling transparent and forced labor free supply chains and demonstrating design principles in action by creating a tangible example of a more humane built environment.

There are Pilot Projects in the U.S., the U.K., and India. Each of first slate of projects is, or will be, open and accessible to the public.

Each fall we conduct an open RFP process to select pilot projects for the following year.

top: Sharon Prince speaking at the 2023 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize Award Ceremony presented by Illinois Institute of Technology; bottom: Sharon Prince with 2016, 2018, 2022 MCHAP Winners. L-R Mauricio Rocha (Taller firm) Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre-Crousse (Barclay Crousse firm). Founded in 2012, the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize at the Illinois Institute of Technology is a biennial award recognizing excellence in built works of architecture in the Americas.

Additional Resources

Explore a set of tools and resources to inform, guide, educate, and engage the public and industry leaders as well as higher education faculty and staff, and students.

Contact Us