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MFA DSI 2023 Thesis projects center community partners and collaborators to co-create for change.

The class of 2023 shares projects responding to a meaningful spectrum of social design topics include: hearing health and care, keeping the art of Miao embroidery alive, sustainable water sourcing in India, a game exploring power & privilege in the Indian education system, kombucha brewing cultures and the microbiome, resources for the Chinese gay community, ADHD care for women, perinatal care and mental health, urban coexistence with wildlife, advocacy for those living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), community-based support for Chinese elderly people, small business resiliency in NYC Chinatown, and food waste.

Thesis Show 2023 was livestreamed on May 11, 2023, with live captioning.

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Thesis Projects

Culture of Cultures by Diva Gohil in yellow on a purple background with microscopic bacteria.

A Culture of Cultures

“A Culture of Cultures” aims to create a community of curious experimenters by leveraging kombucha practices as a grounds for reflection on our connection with the nonhuman bacteria present in it, and increase experimentation through peer to peer learning to build sustainable practices.

As You Are

Reimagining the role of self-care & expression in ADHD.

A light green background with green text over it that reads:


“Featherful” is about building a bird-friendly city by preserving the beauty of birdsongs, the pop of bird colors, and creating a more diverse and vibrant ecosystem for all creatures.

Pink text over yellow wave graphics that reads:

Find Your Frequency

“Find Your Frequency” is a series of gatherings to hold space for open conversations around hearing health with young people.

A yellow banner with blue drawing of people making and enjoying food. In the center there is a blue oval with white text that reads:

Lettuce: Eat Together

Lettuce: Eat Together is a series of dinners aimed at creating a guide to reducing food waste. Participants can share their surplus food with others and organize dinner events in their community to cook and enjoy dishes made from leftover food. The events also include interactive games and educational activities that help participants learn about food waste and raise awareness about the issue. By monitoring changes in people’s thoughts and behaviors before and after the events, this approach aims to promote a zero-waste community by raising people’s awareness of food waste and encouraging them to take action to reduce it in their daily lives.

A black and white drawing of two men sitting on a mountainside. Black text is overlayed on mountains in the horizon, and it reads:

Out, Within, and Beyond

This project delves into the evolving identities and relationships of Chinese gay men, exploring the conflict between societal expectations and self-acceptance while emphasizing the transformation in family dynamics and understanding.

A gray banner with a corner of an embroidered cloth decorating the right side of the image. Written on the left in blue text reads:


PASTFORWARD is an innovative initiative that showcases the history and art of Miao embroidery through NFTs. It bridges the gap between traditional Miao embroidery and modern aesthetics, providing young Miao inheritors with new opportunities to connect their heritage with modern culture. PASTFORWARD enables Miao embroidery to reach a global audience and promotes cultural exchange while supporting the preservation of Miao cultural heritage.

A cream background with a curved purple shape framing the right side of the image. Over this, in purple text reads:


PEP TALKS, which stands for Perinatal Engagement Pathways: Tools To Amplify Lived Knowledge Sharing, reimagines what it means to care for perinatal individuals’ mental health in the transition to parenthood. The project explores pathways that center the voices of individuals with lived expertise of perinatal mental health conditions to co-create tools that improve access to perinatal mental healthcare by connecting individuals and families to the support they need.

Perspectives: A Social Game of Inequities

A boardgame designed to share new perspectives about who is missing from the table, why they are missing and how we might get them there.

A pink and blue gradient background with green text that reads: Seasons of Cysterhood

Seasons of Cysterhood

Discovering moments of transformation and healing through PCOS advocacy, storytelling and relationships.


Spark Igniters

“Spark Igniters” aims to establish a community-driven platform that fosters connections and collaboration within Manhattan’s Chinatown, enabling residents to engage with and appreciate art and culture, access vital social services, and build relationships that inspire and sustain the community and local businesses. By doing so, we seek to create a more inclusive, resilient, and culturally rich neighborhood that thrives in the face of adversity and embraces its individuality.

Unlocking the Golden Years

A Senior-Centered Language and Technology Curriculum Designed by and for Elderly Chinese Immigrants in New York.

An image of a body of water and trees. In black text next to this reads:

Where’s your water from?

Building connections between residents to their natural sources of water.

Visit the official website here.

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