Dr. Deepa Butoliya

Assistant Professor, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

Dr. Butoliya’s teaching, research, and service practices are grounded in including and positively impacting resilient communities that are imagining a better world for all — especially people of color. Deepa uses participatory design and co-creation by sharing power with her community partners. She works with local organizations such as Afrofuture Youth Detroit, Detroit Justice Center, Freedom Growers Urban Farm, and the Boggs Center. Deepa’s work is predominantly with individuals who identify as African American and queer youth between the ages of 16 and 19. She has developed an exhibition project to document the “imaginaries of the futures of marginalized communities.” The project creates narratives that situate the alternative futures of the people of Detroit as envisioned by Detroiters. Her efforts have furthered Stamps’ D-E-I goals by researching the often-ignored design knowledge coming from people of color. 

Being your best DEI self: Think of a time when you were at your best at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. What happened? Who was there? Why did you feel at your best?

“I work with many students who are underrepresented to create an equitable environment. Challenging Social Injustice is as integral to my work as being a design educator. This past semester there was a transgender student struggling with the class due to several mental health and other personal issues. I knew they were doing important work so I kept on encouraging them so they could keep up. On the last exam day, I tried my best to provide support and that student came through and gave their exam. I had to stay late and find an additional examiner to help them get through. I felt very good when I saw them in class again this semester as they were able to feel encouraged to continue their education.”

In envisioning the future, how would you describe progress in the realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion? What might it look like?

“The real progress would be when is DEI is so strongly integrated in every aspect of life that a special label is no longer needed to create opportunities and acceptance.
In future, we all live and work in harmony and accept each other as unique individuals with value and potential.”

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the MLK Spirit Awards?

“I am truly humbled by this nomination. Having done work that exemplifies work done by Dr, King is a huge honor and I am motivated to keep doing my work.”

Dr. Deepa Butoliya