Applied Theory Initiative

The Applied Theory initiative attempts to intervene on our understanding of Theory as a highly specialized and purely contemplative activity that remains separate from practice. Instead, the initiative takes inspiration from the pre-Socratic notion of theoria as a cultural journey that is both political and sacred. Exploring the various ways that theory shows up in the world, the Applied Theory initiative examines various forms of knowledge production and seeks to reconnect the theoretical humanities to the communities that they hope to serve. The initiative is particularly invested in experimenting with the ways in which theory is lived and embodied through a myriad of material practices (in activism, agriculture, art, craft, ritual, etc.) and thus circulates outside the formal spaces of the academy. 

Initiative Director: Stacey Moran

Photo of Stacey Moran

Stacey Moran is Assistant Professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English at Arizona State University. Her work lies at the intersections of feminist theory and technoscience, design studies, and critical pedagogy. Moran has published numerous articles on the critical studies of feminism and technology, technoscience and design, and the rhetorics of materialist philosophy, and is currently completing a monograph titled, What’s the Matter with Quantum Feminism? Moran is a member of the Center for Philosophical Technologies, directs a design summer school in the Netherlands, and collaborates with the Laboratory for Expanded Design (LxD). She also maintains a creative practice that examines the relation between design, mythology and material practices.

To learn more about Designing the Pluriversity, a community-building activation space of provocations and responses, click on the button below.

Designing the Pluriversity

Tahayyuz Educational Program

The Tahayyuz Educational Program is a one-year learning program that teaches critical, interdisciplinary approaches to the built environment. The program aims to present a complementary pathway to the study of the built environment by adopting an integrative educational model that brings together people from diverse backgrounds in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences to collectively explore the built environment from within, and at the intersection of, various disciplines. We aim to develop a pedagogy that centers community, criticality, and social justice as core values that shape the program content and teaching and learning methods. This pedagogy would guide us in creating content that is informed by challenges such as historic and precarious landscapes, climate change, urban poverty, and spatial justice. It would guide us in developing teaching and learning methods that facilitate participatory learning, collective decision-making, co-production of knowledge, and community-oriented practice.

The Tahayyuz Alliance consists of three entities: Megawra10Tooba and Ahmed Mansour, architect and conservation specialist.

Located in the historic El-Khalifa neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, the Megawra-Built Environment Collective is a platform for debate and action in the built environment. Urban scale projects that link heritage to social and economic upgrades of public space, tourism and capacity building.

Interventions come in many forms: place-making activities that reinvent places in the city as sites of cultural exchange; participatory projects in waste management that minimizes environmental hazards; identifying heritage sites and rehabilitating them for communal use; creating heritage awareness activities; hosting public lectures and tours.

10Tooba is an interdisciplinary group of built environment professionals whose various projects focus on advocacy for deprived communities in Egypt. The group specializes in urban mapping and visualization, policy analysis and participatory planning projects in the urban core. They are actively engaged in knowledge production of the city's informal areas, and provide negotiation services and consensus building between stakeholders.

Ahmed Mansour for Architecture and Conservation. Mansour served on the UNESCO project, "Urban Regeneration Project for Historic Cairo" (2010-2012).


April - May 2023

Workshop I, “Problem Design: The Problem of Conservation” with Stacey Moran and Adam Nocek

This workshop explores “problematization” in design research and practice in order to demonstrate how it is essential to making meaningful change in complex urban environments. Problem Design is a new area of experimental research practice devised by Stacey Moran (PhD) and Adam Nocek (PhD) and in collaboration with numerous global partners. The workshop is both critical and productive: it at once critiques the dominant frameworks of design as a “problem-solving” field for understanding and solving problems that designs solutions for pre-given problems; it also offers a viable alternative to engaging with problems. The wager is that problem design, and not just solution design, is what demands the attention of designers today. This workshop introduces participants to the new field of Problem Design and activates the method for exploring the problem of conservation in Old Cairo. 

Workshop II, “Problem Design: Developing Tahayyuz Integrated Curriculum” Stacey Moran and Adam Nocek

This workshop engages the designers of the Tahayyuz Educational Program aims to challenge the dominant paradigm of design education in Egypt centered on redevelopment, and explores interdisciplinary alternative modalities for teaching architecture. Especially focused on the relations between theory and practice in architectural education.

January 30 - February 3, 2023

"Cities Lab"

Hosted by the University of North Carolina, Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, the Tahayyuz collaborators come together for a week of workshops and events that explore placemaking, interdisciplinary and critical pedagogy for artists and designers, and cultural exchange projects. 

November 4, 2022

Guest Lecture, “The (re)Design of Higher Education,” Stacey Moran, Helwan University, Faculty of Applied Arts

September - October 2022

Consultant on the design of the Tahayyuz Educational Program

Public Talk, “Designing & its Problems,” Stacey Moran and Adam Nocek