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‘Boiling Down’ Project Fights Bullying Through the Power of Cooking

Photograph by Nir Arieli
Originally posted on SVA Features

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of the many outstanding projects by 2016 Alumni Scholarship Award winners. First up is MFA Design for Social Innovation student Ivan Boscariol on his Boiling Down program, which aims to reduce bullying and challenge gender norms through the power of cooking. Boscariol is one of 25 MFA Design for Social Innovation students who will present their thesis projects on Thursday, April 28th from noon to 5:00pm at the SVA Theatre (more information here). To watch a live stream of the presentations, click here.

Tell us about your project.
Boiling Down is a program for middle schools that brings self-awareness and fosters reflection on conflict through cooking—an activity highly experiential and transformative. It is targeted to help middle schools with bullying and social hostility issues in a way that is affordable and that doesn’t carry the stigma of some “anti-bullying programs.” It also gives special attention to the gender pressures both boys and girls live with, and invites them to reframe what it means to be a “man” or a “woman” in a compassionate and less competitive way.

What inspired the idea?
A program that teaches knitting to inmates in the U.S inspired me. I realized the combination of a “regular” activity with an added social emotional learning experience has a lot of potential, especially for those audiences who wouldn’t look for self-development on their own.

What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program?
Question everything—your assumptions, your solutions, the system, your constraints, everything. Our power to change lies in re-framing the reality we want to transform. Don’t wait until you have your prototype all figured out to reach your test audience—or you might end up waiting for weeks to learn from them.

What is something you learned at SVA that you’ll always take with you?
Run towards feedback. Own your desire and actions for positive change. It’s not about you; it’s about the impact your work has on your target audience.

Was there a teacher or class that was essential for you?
Disruptive Design changed the way I do research and craft insights.

What was a highlight of living and studying in New York City?
The city is a learning environment. So many museums, institutions, conferences, parks… it’s hard to get bored here. It also allowed me to intern in places I’ve always wanted to, such as UNICEF and for the city of New York.

What are your post SVA plans?
I’m going back to Brazil, where I want to use what I learned here to improve the quality of public services in Brazil through participatory design.

This year, a record 67 students were chosen from a pool of over 300 applicants, and were awarded Alumni Scholarship Awards from the SVA Alumni Society worth more than $80,000 for thesis and final projects as varied as narrative film, etching, animation, painting and sculpture. For more information about the Alumni Scholarship Awards and to see a complete list of this year’s recipients, click here.

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