DSI Grace Kwon (‘20) on Finding Purpose in Design


Chair’s Letter

Miya Osaki

DSI chair Miya Osaki at a podium

Why DSI? Social Design is the creation of new social conditions—in cities, corporate cultures or communities—resulting in increased creativity, equity, social justice, inclusivity, greater resilience and a healthy connection to nature. It is relevant to every business, government, city, community and individual. It uses systems design, critical thinking, human-centered design, strategy, game mechanics, social change, collective leadership, imagination and beauty to move people to think differently and become more resilient and resourceful themselves. This is what our program is about—what we teach and what our students are out in the world doing. It’s the design of systems; and the relationships between people and things, instead of only the things themselves.

Here’s why the DSI MFA program is unique:
It’s a balance of the academic and practical. Social design is a practice that can only be mastered by practicing it. This is an experience-based program where you’ll learn to think critically, explore, iterate, and measure. You’ll also have a résumé before you graduate.
We define design broadly. And the curriculum reflects that. You’ll study with a group of pioneering practitioners who have worked in development, healthcare, media, tech, government, game design, research, business strategy and innovation, and social design. We are now STEM certified, too.
We live diversity. Students have come from 28 countries and counting. Cross-cultural literacy is one of the skills that employers look for, and it’s a key aspect of the program here. We’re in the heart of New York City, and it simply doesn’t get more diverse or exciting than that. Our lecturers are the most exciting global experts in science, business, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, health and some things that have not yet been heard of. Our students are connected to an unmatched network of potential partners by the time they leave school.
It’s about creative collaboration and leadership. Our students join us because it fulfills a deep need that nothing else can—to go out and create change, disrupt the status quo, work with communities, and use their own powers of creativity to bring something to life that has not existed before. They are remarkable people…curious, unpredictable and visionary.
Impact the future. If you want to know what an MFA in Social Design will do for you, take a look at what our alums are doing. Our alums are working in industry, government, nonprofits and NGOs, education, at creative consultancies and as founders of their own enterprises.

This is a two-year degree. It takes that long because we take the discipline and rigor seriously. If you do too, please browse our website (dsi.sva.edu) and talk to our students, faculty and alums to learn more.

—Miya Osaki, Chair

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