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DSI Elizabeth Abernethy, ’15, Mixes Social Design and Business in Silicon Valley

MFA Design for Social Innovation

MFA Design for
Social Innovation

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136 W 21st St,
5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 592–2205

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Program

Curriculum

Course Descriptions

Fundamentals of Design for Social Innovation

SIG-5030
Fundamentals of Design for Social Innovation
Fall semester
Monday 12:00 – 6:00 (9/12, 9/26, 10/10, 10/24, 11/7, 11/21, 12/5)
Instructors: Marc Rettig, Hannah du Plessis

This course explores the skills needed to be an actor in social innovation, including change models, facilitation, relationships, team building and leaning into uncertainty. Structured as part lab and part discussion, students complete readings, journal assignments and activities related to interaction, dialog, capturing and observing data, writing research and facilitation plans, and developing relationships. At the end of the course, each student facilitates a group discussion with different representatives from part of a system, with the goal of helping the group see the system through multiple vantage points to shift to a collective intention and prototype new solutions.

Environmental Ethics

SIG-5360
Environmental Ethics
Fall semester
Monday 6:00 – 9:00 (9/19, 10/3,10/17, 10/31, 11/14, 11/28, 12/12)
Instructor: Jaimie Cloud

In this series of three workshops, students use systems thinking and creativity to explore the intersection of sustainability and design, including discussions on economics and quality-of-life indicators, how to distinguish problems from symptoms, and unpacking the operating principles for life on Planet Earth.

Disruptive Design: Research and Insights

SIG-5350
Disruptive Design: Research and Insights
Fall semester
Tuesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructor: Ksenia Pachikov

An exploration of the processes, thinking and practices of primary, ethnographic based research; in this course, students explore how to collect compelling user stories as they come to understand the nuances of behavior, culture and emotion in the lives of their audiences. Students explore how to meaningfully connect user and audience understanding to strategies for enterprise and social change.

Understanding Natural and Social Systems

SIG-5120
Understanding Natural and Social Systems
Fall semester
Wednesday 2:00 – 5:00 (9/7 – 10/26)
Instructor: Patricia Dandonoli

This course teaches understanding of social and environmental issues in the context of the complex human communities and natural systems in which they exist, both on line and on the ground. Issues from climate change, health, national security, personal identity and social justice are examined in the context of the players and places that impact humanity and the environment. In addition to online communities, study includes the interwoven dynamics of business, not-for-profit organizations and public agencies.

UX + Social Innovation

SIG-5160
UX + Social Innovation
Fall semester
Wednesday 2:00 – 5:00 (11/2 – 12/14)
Instructor: Jonathan O’Brien

This eight week course will provide a hands-on overview of user experience (UX) design process as it applies to social innovation design. Students will build a working prototype through the use of UX techniques and tools, covering all of the steps in a successful UX design process including: understanding and researching users, examining product requirements, creating user flows, sketching and wireframing, and building a working prototype. Through this, students will have an understanding of UX design process that will lay the foundation for building successful products, applications, websites, and social design programs.

Global Guest Lecture Series I

SIG-5220
Global Guest Lecture Series I
Fall semester
Wednesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Cheryl Heller, Aubrey Hays

This weekly yearlong lecture course exposes students to the lives and ideas of some of the most important people defining social innovation in the world today. Speakers are curated to inspire new thinking and dialogue on various opportunities for careers in social innovation, and how design plays a role in each of them.
Watch Lecture Videos

Mapping and Visualization Design

SIG-5150
Mapping and Visualization Design
Fall semester
Thursday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructor: Despina Papadopoulos

This course teaches mapping and visualizing systems in order to facilitate a journey from thinking to making. Readings, discussions and weekly “experiments” are employed to investigate how mapping and modeling techniques can help develop sustainable frameworks of action. The course helps students visualize and articulate their thinking, explore ways of planning and communicating solutions, and develop new models of engagement and action.

Introduction to Thesis

SIG-5440
Introduction to Thesis
Spring semester
Monday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Maggie Breslin, Alison Cornyn

In this course, students investigate a variety of topics, researching each to the point of confirming their own interest and the viability of the concept. Exercises in problem definition, audience identification, research and barriers to change help students test their own hypotheses. Criteria include demonstration of need on the part of the audience, a clear articulation of the concept and metrics for success. By the end of the semester, students have a fully vetted topic for their thesis.

Technologies for Designing Change

SIG-5410
Technologies for Designing Change
Spring semester
Tuesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Lee-Sean Huang (1/10 – 2/28), Lina Srivastava (3/14 – 4/25)

In this making course, students will explore a range of methods and techniques for taking a concept to completion using design and physical computing. The class will focus on digital and physical prototypes as a method of testing and learning. This learning will support the systematic design decisions that determine the quality, impact and outcome of social design.

Communication Design

SIG-5070
Communication Design
Spring semester
Wednesday 2:00 – 5:00
Instructor: Cheryl Heller

In this course, students learn to use language and both verbal and visual communication skills to engage, persuade and shift behavior, through story writing and telling, cogent logic and public presentations. The class is based on developing personal voice as well as working with external clients and organizations to design communication as a system with intentional impact on outcomes. The class culminates with presentations to external clients.

Global Guest Lecture Series II

SIG-5225
Global Guest Lecture Series II
Spring semester
Wednesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Cheryl HellerAubrey Hays

This is the second part of a two-semester course. Please see SIG-5220 for course description.

Games for Impact

SIG-5390
Games for Impact
Spring semester
Thursday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Asi BurakToni Pizza

Games designed to address social and political issues are one of the fastest growing categories in the ‘serious games’ movement. This course incorporates game theory and analysis with hands-on development of social impact games: interactive experiences that integrate socio-political events, values and messages into their design and game mechanics. Working in teams, students take on game projects from concept to a functional prototype, and refine their projects through several iterations, ending with presentations to a jury of experts.

Creative Writing for Social Designers

SIG-5811
Creative Writing for Social Designers
Spring semester
Friday 9:00 AM – 12:00 noon (4/7/17 – 4/28/17)
Instructor: Cheryl Heller

The maxim that all change begins with language is true in the visual arts to the same extent that it is anywhere else. Yet social impact designers — who make their professional careers developing initiatives that change lives, often with enormous public consequence — are often not taught how to write.  Both the design and social innovation fields are rife with argot and clichés that deaden 16/SIG meaning instead of uncovering it. The goal of this class is to give social designers access to the power of creative writing in order to more fully understand themselves, and combine that self-knowledge with writing that will infect and inspire their audiences.

Thesis Consultation: Research, Writing, Presentation

SIG-6190
Thesis Consultation: Research, Writing, Presentation
Fall semester
Monday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Tina ParkMiya Osaki, Megan FathArchie Lee Coates IV, Jeffrey Franklin

Guided by their faculty advisors, students conduct research to develop a thorough understanding of the context, landscape and challenges of their thesis topic. They design and implement a series of prototypes to test and refine their theory, and create a compelling presentation, which brings each vision’s potential to life through words, images and graphics. Presentation to the thesis advisory board for approval of the thesis topic is required.

Metrics and Data Visualization I

SIG-6170
Metrics and Data Visualization I
Fall semester
Tuesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructor: Aurelia Moser

This yearlong course looks at theory and practice of gathering and visualizing data by integrating the identification of metrics into ongoing student projects and evaluating metrics from case studies in order to understand their strategy. In the fall, the course focuses on data and visualization for exploration: asking useful questions and engaging in purposeful discovery. In the spring, students study data and visualization for explanation: how various tools and techniques help us communicate with and influence others. Guest lecturers include data scientists, financial modelers and corporate social responsibility experts.

Global Guest Lecture Series III

SIG-6220
Global Guest Lecture Series III
Fall semester
Wednesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Cheryl HellerAubrey Hays

This weekly yearlong lecture course exposes students to the lives and ideas of some of the most important people defining social innovation in the world today. Speakers are curated to inspire new thinking and dialogue on various opportunities for careers in social innovation, and how design plays a role in each of them.
Watch Lecture Videos

Leadership and Entrepreneurship I

SIG-6060
Leadership and Entrepreneurship I
Fall semester
Thursday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructor: Jane Englebardt

The core of the yearlong course is the launch of start-ups in student teams, through which theory and practice on entrepreneurship, leadership, collaboration, and business models are melded. Topics covered include customer identification, development, and channels; articulating and testing hypotheses; collaborative leadership and team dynamics; creating minimum viable products; revenue models; and resilience.

Thesis Consultation: Implementation

SIG-6940
Thesis Consultation: Implementation
Spring semester
Monday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Archie Lee Coates IVJeffrey FranklinTina ParkMiya Osaki, and Megan Fath

With the help of thesis advisors, students complete their thesis and develop it into a form ready to be implemented. Presentation of the thesis to the full board of advisors is required; following approval, each student presents their final thesis to a public audience. A review committed consisting of the program chair, additional faculty and outside experts will critique presentations at critical intervals during the semester.

Metrics and Data Visualization II

SIG-6175
Metrics and Data Visualization II
Spring semester
Tuesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructor: Gabe Schuster

This year-long course looks at theory and practice of gathering and visualizing data by integrating the identification of metrics into ongoing student projects and evaluating metrics from case studies in order to understand their strategy. In the fall, the course focuses on data and visualization for exploration: asking useful questions and engaging in purposeful discovery. In the spring, students study data and visualization for explanation: how various tools and techniques help us communicate with and influence others. Guest lecturers include data scientists, financial modelers and corporate social responsibility experts.

Global Guest Lecture Series IV

SIG-6225
Global Guest Lecture Series IV
Spring semester
Wednesday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructors: Cheryl HellerAubrey Hays

This is the second part of a two-semester course. Please see SIG-6220 for course description.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship II

SIG-6065
Leadership and Entrepreneurship II
Spring semester
Thursday 6:00 – 9:00
Instructor: Karen Proctor

This course is taught in conjunction with SIG-6080, Leadership, as an alternating class over two semesters, with combined learning objectives. The core of the year-long course is the launch of start-ups in student teams, through which theory and practice on entrepreneurship, leadership, collaboration, and business models are melded. Topics covered include customer identification, development, and channels; articulating and testing hypotheses; collaborative leadership and team dynamics; creating minimum viable products; revenue models; and resilience.

136 W 21st St,
5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 592–2205

SUBSCRIBE