• Christine

Helping to Bring Trauma-Informed Design to Survivors of Human Trafficking

Christine and Boston Architectural College (BAC)

Faculty Member Janet Roche

Are Partnering with

As Guest Lecturers

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021

They will provide a


best-practices framework for a senior class of

interior designers who will be creating

a 23,000 square foot, 3-story property

for youth who were trafficked.


The final project will include both program and residential space, and will mitigate potential triggers, maximize comfort, and centralize choice. Trauma-informed design is about integrating the principles of trauma-informed care into design with the goal of creating physical spaces that promote safety, well-being and healing. This requires realizing how the physical environment affects identity, worth and dignity, and how it promotes empowerment.


Environments have the ability to increase or reduce our stress. By anticipating and mitigating potential triggers, you can create spaces in which users’ stress systems can rest and they can find peace. In this peace, they can then form supportive relationships with adults who can support them through healing.


What is human trafficking,

and how does it tie into trauma-informed design?


According to Polaris, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to combat and prevent trafficking, human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. There are two main types:

  • Sex trafficking, or the crime of using force, fraud, or coercion to induce another individual to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money or valuable goods; and

  • Labor trafficking, or the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to work or provide a service.

In order to successfully anticipate triggers and create maximum comfort, it is essential to get to know who will be using the space and what is important to them.


The discussion will delve into how trafficking operations work, who is most vulnerable to being trafficked, and how traffickers, target their victims, break down their resistance, and control and exploit them. With this knowledge, and the background provided on trauma, it's potential impacts, and best practices for informed care, students will be armed with the knowledge and skills to develop a design that promotes both physical and emotional safety, respect, connection, community, control, dignity, healing, and joy.



About the Lecturers:


Our founder, Christine Cowart, M.A. CTP, has built a career in human services policy, with a focus on social justice and family services. Through this work, she developed an in-depth understanding of trauma, its possible effects, and what can be done to change the story. In her personal life, she is married and a mother of two children with traumatic backgrounds. She is deeply involved with her local school’s equity work, and during the last two decades, has spent most of her free time volunteering as a certified adaptive recreation and sports specialist.


In addition to her Masters in Design for Human from BAC, Janet Roche holds a B.S. in Social Work from Boston University and a Certificate of Business and Management from Harvard University Extension School. She owns Janet Roche Designs, specializing in universal design, and the the design of environments for those who are aging-in-place or seeking accommodations for other human conditions. A longtime advocate for dignity in design, Janet is also the host of Inclusive Designers Podcast, a collaborative forum for designers to share creative ideas for different human conditions.