September 23, 2022

A New ArtCenter Class Investigates the Political and Economic Impact of Hosting the Olympic Games

Students will look at the sporting event through the lens of social injustice and class power

Students at ArtCenter College of Design will critically examine the impact of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games in a new class this fall. The Olympic City: The Games and the Remaking of Los Angeles course taught by Visiting Professor Cedric Johnson will assess how labor, policing, housing, gentrification and public goods/public space are influenced when a city invites the Olympic Games into its community. This course will focus on the historical experiences of Los Angeles and other cities who’ve hosted the Olympic Games. This Humanities & Sciences fall course will transition to a class in Spring 2023 called The Just City: The Olympic Games and the Future of Los Angeles.

“Attracting an estimated global viewership in the millions, the Olympic Games carry incredible influence in our culture,” says Johnson, visiting professor, who will teach the ArtCenter courses. “I teach students to see beyond what can appear as a glamorous design and marketing campaign for the city, to show some of the problematics and potential reimaginings that can occur when we look at the Olympics through a more critical analysis of capitalist urban planning.”

Johnson is a professor of African American studies and political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His teaching and research interests include African American political thought, neoliberal politics, class analysis and race. His book, Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) was named W.E.B. DuBois Outstanding Book of the Year by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

“We are grateful and fortunate to work with a scholar like Cedric Johnson to teach this class,” says Jennifer May, executive director of ArtCenter’s Designmatters department of social innovation. “As an educational institution, it is important for ArtCenter to provide space and freedom for scholars to unpack and explore these complex issues, wrestle with the multi-layered histories and expose students to thought-provoking subject matter.”

In 2019, Johnson embedded himself at ArtCenter for a week-long residency to help students explore what it means to “do good” in the world through art and design. Johnson was interviewed in 2020 for ArtCenter’s Change Lab podcast, where he emphasized the need to address the roots of inequities and discussed how history has a way of colliding with the present if you wait long enough.

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About Designmatters at ArtCenter: Founded in 2001, Designmatters is a groundbreaking, college-wide program that serves all academic disciplines at ArtCenter College of Design. The department sets a global standard for art and design education in social innovation. Designmatters advances art and design as a force for innovation and social change through research, advocacy and action. Designmatters collaborates with nonprofit organizations, industry, and national and international development agencies on immersive, outcome-oriented research and projects. ArtCenter students, alumni and faculty participate in cross-disciplinary design studios, workshops, independent studies, fellowships and internships that yield high impact results which are widely disseminated. In recognition of Designmatters’ leadership, Art Center was the first design school to receive Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status at the United Nations.

About ArtCenter: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and 10 graduate degrees in a wide variety of art and design disciplines. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves the general public through a highly regarded series of online and on-campus year-round extension programs for all levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations' Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College's long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.


Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396-2385

Emily Logan
Public Relations Specialist
ArtCenter College of Design
626-396-2206 office

Cedric Johnson (right) during a week-long residency at ArtCenter in 2019 where he talked about the policing crisis and taught a workshop with students to explore what it means to “do good” in the world through art and design. © ArtCenter College of Design/Juan Posada
ArtCenter College of Design Visiting Professor Cedric Johnson is teaching The Olympic City: The Games and the Remaking of Los Angeles course this fall (2022). Photo courtesy of Kristie Kahns.