Esther Kang (She/her)

Esther Y. Kang (She/her)

PhD in Transition Design

Esther is a second generation Korean American from the midwest and southern California. She is an emerging scholar, educator, and researcher whose work sits at the heart of transformative justice, collective liberation, and systems change. While at CMU as a PhD Researcher and Teaching Fellow, Esther will examine design’s relationship with the notions of democracy in the U.S., cross-cultural solidarity, and emotional resiliency.

Esther has ten years of experience leading teams across sectors with a deep focus on equity-centered policy-making, grassroots-inspired community engagement, and culturally conscious service delivery. Examples of projects include equity-centered housing policies for the state of New York, resident-centered city budgeting strategies for South Bend, IN, community-owned databank for Two Bridges (NYC), transition planning for a White House Initiative under the Obama administration.

Esther has had teaching appointments at New York University (NYU), Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Art Center College of Design. She has been teaching at the graduate level for the past five years, and has been the primary thesis advisor to MFA and MPH students at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and NYU.

Esther received her M.A. in social design from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her B.F.A. in art theory and photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Research interests include cross-cultural solidarity movements, notions of democracy in the U.S., values-based policy-making & coalition building, re-purposing of systemic oppressions across time scales, anatomy of emotional resilience, affective qualities in politics, and studies on empire and imperialism in East and Southeast Asia.