In his research, Shawhin studies ways designers organize to address social problems. He bridges sociological studies of social movements and race with architectural theory. Through the DissentxDesign project, Shawhin works with sociologists and environmental designers to conduct ethnographies of activists and organizers in the design fields. The work of DissentxDesign contributes to theories of contentious politics around race and racism in the spatial professions.
Shawhin is also a founding member of the Spatial Justice Design Collective, which uses design and theory building to investigate how dissent and counter-hegemonic tactics play out in space. His research projects are supported by the National Science Foundation and his groups’ work is published in architectural and sociological journals.