Design for
Social Innovation
Thesis Show

Introduction

This year, our DSI graduates have once again developed ground-breaking projects that challenge and address social and systemic problems out in the world.

Their extensive work has begun to prepare them for rewarding careers as designers and creative leaders.

Schedule

Building Equitable and Regenerative Systems

Tuesday, May 12

10:00 - 11:00 am

More Info +

What does redesigning radically regenerative and equitable futures with individuals, communities, and organizations of the world look like? Join this conversation about the potential of social design to address the urgent environmental, racial, and socioeconomic systems impacted by the climate crisis.

Tianyue Zhang & Tara Maurice
Catherine Mazzocchi & Jennifer Ulloa
Cecilia Wang & Sky Wei
Jiangyi Yu & Sarah Huang

Race, Gender, Equity, and Inclusion

Tuesday, May 12

11:15 - 12:15 pm

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This panel challenges the dominant and systemic oppression that affects our relationships with race, color, and gender. Through storytelling, community circles, and creative practice, these projects seek to shape new narratives and build capacity for reimagining power.

Aditi Kapre & Kartik Krishnan
Damian Ashton
Lorena Estrella
Ryana Bryan
Vanessa Yip
Xuan Cheng

Community— Building Blocks of System Change

Wednesday, May 13

10:00 - 11:00 am

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These thesis projects focus on the creation of new ecosystems centered around people, place, and community. Each project challenges the status quo by creating new models of engagement within communities to activate their power and form meaningful relationships towards systemic change.

Andrea Miranda Salas
Grace Kang & Grace Kwon
Dhara Shah
Dorothy Dai

Accessibility and Information Exchange

Wednesday, May 13

11:15 - 12:15 pm

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Join our panelists in discussing how their thesis projects work towards empowering communities with information, exchange, and educational resources to provide the agency and capacity to make more grounded, life-affirming decisions.

Alisha Mahen & Elana Wolpert
Baitian Yu
Danielle Skinn
Kexin Lyu
Monica Tarriba

Live!

Student Video Presentations

Wednesday, May 13

1:00 pm

More Info +

After the panels, join us live for a showing of our students' video presentations and some words from faculty.

Panel 1. Building Equitable and Regenerative Systems

PRETTY/UGLY

Tianyue Zhang
Tara Maurice

PRETTY/UGLY is radically rethinking sustainability through content creation, live events, and strategic collaborations in work that communicates the interdependence of man and nature. With a sense of urgency and possibility, PRETTY/UGLY's work makes clear: "there is no garbage in nature."

Bio
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Tianyue Zhang

A social designer, graphic designer & film photographer, trained in sociology. She combines radical thinking with solid research to create a better story of people's day-to-day lives. With her great passion for Fashion, Human behaviors, and Nature, she uses design as a tool to facilitate systemic thinking on values, identities, and lifestyles of contemporary citizens.

Tara Maurice

A designer whose work communicates the interdependence of man and nature. To close the distance between the two, she believes the world needs designers, perhaps now more than ever.

Play

Power is Local

Catherine Mazzocchi
Jennifer Ulloa

Power is Local builds Black, Latinx, & Spanish-speaking Northern Manhattan community power, to ensure that people most impacted by energy insecurity's increasingly harmful effects on community wellbeing can develop critical policy action.

Bio
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Catherine Mazzocchi

A design strategist and researcher, aims to craft experiences and opportunities where community voice & power are centered in decision-making processes. Her practice of co-design emphasizes equity, justice, and visual storytelling.

Jennifer Ulloa

A first generation New Yorker and Salvadoreña, committed to racial equity and justice. As a researcher, educator, and community design strategist, her work is centered around building joy, wellbeing, and power in communities of color. She aims to design equitable decision making processes to create the transformative antiracist policies and social change that we need.

Play

Desire and Reality

Cecilia Wang
Sky Wei

An educational program that helps college students to be more aware of their shopping habits by shifting the way they shop for their sense of security and self-worth.

Bio
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Cecilia Wang

A Beijing and New York based Social Innovation Designer with a background in filmmaking. She is a practitioner of empathy in design to narrow the gaps between users in a trust-difficult environment. The core of all of her projects is a human-centered approach, design thinking and storytelling.

Sky Wei

An experienced designer with a practice grounded in design thinking and human centered design (HCD) approaches. She is currently focusing on creating conversation around overconsumption and taking part in helping climate change through an interactive and fun way. Delivering meaningful impact through using the approaches to transforming the way organizations develop products, services, processes, strategy and helping things to take form.

Play

REBUILDERS

Jiangyi Yu
Sarah Huang

Rebuilders aims to tackle the increasing waste crisis by questioning the way people deal with waste and reframe the possibility. To achieve the goal, we create an educational play program to cultivate children’s creative power to develop new mindsets on the value of waste. Through a series of actionable lessons, we can bring lifelong environmental awareness and potential actions to their everyday lives.

Bio
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Jiangyi Yu

A social and packaging designer. She hopes to find interesting ways to promote people's unique in-depth thinking, to bring people closer to the environment, and solve the environmental problems in modern society.

Sarah Huang

a product designer and social designer passionate about complex issues on a global scale, human-centered design methods, and community-driven approaches. She believes design can be used beyond the beautiful and commercial to make meaningful change. With particular interest in environmental issues, children’s education, and other pressing social issues, she hopes to use her experience to work at the intersection of these fields and bring positive impact to our community and environment.

Play

Panel 2. Race, Gender, Equity, and Inclusion

Unfair

Aditi Kapre
Kartik Krishnan

Unfair is aimed towards reimagining a more equitable future state of mainstream Indian media, by building radical inclusivity to shift the age old colourist narrative that paints fair skin as superior and more desirable to dark skin.

Bio
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Aditi Kapre

A systems thinker with strengths in storytelling, synthesis and strategy. Her background in communication design helps her translate concepts to solutions. She is driven by a commitment to create safe and inclusive spaces that enable people to gain power, agency and capacity for resilience.

Kartik Krishnan

A Social and Strategy designer from Mumbai, India. With a passion to bring equity in the education and healthcare sector in India, Kartik hopes to be able to make a difference in the lives of the underserved. Kartik values compassion, generosity, inclusivity, and love, and wants to work toward these values through his practice.

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Healthy Masculinity Forum

Damian Ashton

An online community hub for men to connect and explore healthy masculinity through a digital forum as well as downloadable meetup toolkit for them to take their conversations offline and into their local communities.

Bio
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Damian Ashton

A Design Researcher and Strategist with a background in marketing and content strategy. He is passionate about the intersections between design and social ecology with a focus on gender equity and urban planning.

Play

Youth Action Lab

Lorena Estrella

Youth Action Lab is an afterschool club for middle schoolers that uses storytelling and creative expression to explore questions on race & identity.

Bio
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Lorena Estrella

An artist, facilitator and social designer. She believes deeply in the power of design to heal and build power with communities. Her design practice centers equity, joy, liberation and creativity. Lorena brings her experience from the education, youth development and non-profit sectors to imagine new and old ways of being and building beloved community.

Play

Storied Lives

Ryana Bryan

Storied Lives addresses intergenerational tension in black families through creative reflection and storytelling. Investigating, creating, and sharing personal narratives builds individual power and can start to break down generational barriers. By connecting those stories to a larger community narrative, this project aims to create an intentional and transformative space where creative storytelling can lead to healing.

Bio
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Ryana Bryan

A multidisciplinary designer and artist with a deep love for creating and a talent for storytelling. She is unendingly curious about the processes and systems that shape our communities and societies. She learns best by doing, and is energized by the prospect of new challenges.

Play

Workways: Building an Inclusive Creative Economy

Vanessa Yip

Workways is a worker-centric data-gathering toolkit built to amplify equitable business models that provide direct pathways into the creative economy for immigrant women of color in NYC.

Bio
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Vanessa Yip

A communications designer that is passionate about using design for good. She is particularly interested in restorative circular, sustainable systems that consider the well-being of the environment and people, and wants to use creativity and design to bring positive social changes and foster closer connections between people and the natural environment.

Play

Shero Comic

Xuan Cheng

This project aims to increase opportunities for creating positive female representations in mainstream superhero comics by opening up conversations around female life experiences in the comic community.

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Xuan Cheng

A social designer skilled in visual communication design, design research and data visualization design. She enjoys pop culture such as movies and comics, and aims to promote inclusivity in mainstream superhero comics.

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Panel 3. Community— Building Blocks of System Change

Workways: Building an Inclusive Creative Economy

Andrea Miranda Salas

Workways is a worker-centric data-gathering toolkit built to amplify equitable business models that provide direct pathways into the creative economy for immigrant women of color in NYC.

Bio
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Andrea Miranda Salas

A design researcher, visual communicator & maker working towards equity, inclusivity and economic justice. Drawing from her own lived experience and identity she is exploring design processes, co-creation and reciprocity as a way to create equitable and regenerative economies with underrepresented groups, such as immigrants, people of color and economically disadvantaged communities, locally and globally.

Play

Untangling Philanthropy

Grace Kang
Grace Kwon

Disrupting power dynamics in philanthropy by challenging funders to cultivate collaborative partnerships with their grantees and ground relationships in trust.

Bio
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Grace Kang

Grace sits at the intersection of design, user research, and business. Her work is guided by a strong belief in design as a way of creating meaningful experiences and exploring how imagination can lead to action. She’s excited about building communities that matter and believes that people are the foundation for designing systems that are grounded in resilience and equity. Cultivating human connections that initiate collaboration from critical discourse to design is how she approaches challenges and achieves solutions that are authentic, lasting, and impactful.

Grace Kwon

A design strategist with passion for designing for equity and inclusivity. Her nomadic childhood around the world has led her to think about creating spaces that give off a sense of home and belonging. Her design philosophy is grounded in creating appropriate conditions where people can feel safe enough to talk but also brave enough to differ. Her values are set on paving the way for trusted relationships which lead to the true art of collaboration.

Play

Thrival Mode

Dhara Shah

Thrival Mode is about holding systems and institutions that affect decisions regarding neighborhood character accountable to the needs of immigrant neighborhoods to affect forces that cause displacement and erasure of culture.

Bio
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Dhara Shah

Dhara's design practice melds her years of experience organizing for racial justice movements with systems level change and a vision for living outside of the current oppressive systems. She values relational movement building, practicing anti-capitalism, and deepening participation for all accessibility needs. She uses ancestral knowledge to guide her facilitation practices, and continually asks the question how can we be the most free?

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IT IS YOUR TURN

Dorothy Dai

An engagement board game combined with in-person feedback that motivates older Chinese immigrants to formulate, express and share their needs with experts in their local senior centers, and inspire the centers to improve their services.

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Dorothy Dai

Dorothy believes that designers have the power and skills to communicate with people, share knowledge, use visual language to empower people's thoughts, and make informed decisions about the world around them. She enjoys working at the intersection of social justice and civic innovation by designing user-friendly services and using new media platforms to grow an active voice with teams across sectors.

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Panel 4. Accessibility and Information Exchange

Sisters Can

Alisha Mahen
Elana Wolpert

Sisters Can is a co-created English curriculum that gives Yemeni immigrant students information on their career paths with the power of inspirational role-model storytelling.

Bio
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Alisha Mahen

An educator turned designer focused on community-centered and equity-driven design. She uses a participatory, human-centered design approach to build the capacity of communities to conceptualize and create sustainable solutions to problems they face. Her background as a grassroots-level educator and facilitator inspires her to actively challenge norms, take on issues of inequity and social injustice, and reimagine possibilities for and with socially excluded urban populations.

Elana Wolpert

A very curious design researcher and strategist who believes in the power of humanity's collective collaboration. At her core, she is a deep listener, a writer and a storyteller. Elana is passionate about how the design process can reveal the unseen and create innovative solutions to systematic issues. Her work is focused on values-driven community engagement and building the social and economic mobility of Arab immigrants and refugees.

Play

Talking to the Blue

Baitian Yu

Helping young artists in Northeast China get the information they need as artists in the world right now.

Bio
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Baitian Yu

A young designer aiming to explore post humanism and combine it with traditional Chinese philosophy of aesthetics, art concepts and design concepts.

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Known

Danielle Skinn

Opening conversation about healthy sexuality with LDS Single Adults.

Bio
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Danielle Skinn

A designer who sits at the intersection of community building, art and design. She aims to create safe spaces for people to share and combine their talents and passions to innovate for change. Her practice lies in handling design problems fragile in nature; ones that take time and aim to build trust amongst individuals so co-creation can flourish.

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Break the Wall

Kexin Lyu

This project aims to build a more inclusive educational environment at SVA to help Chinese International Students with limited English proficiency overcome the language barrier and cultural differences so that they can easily communicate with local English speakers and engage in the host community.

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Kexin Lyu

Kexin is using design to facilitate the communication between international students and local communities. Her goal is to create a more inclusive and multicultural educational environment for students who come from different cultural backgrounds.

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SEMILLAS: Seeding Change

Monica Tarriba

A set of creative motivational tools for middle school students in rural communities in Mexico that will support, expose and activate students to create an empowered vision of their future self.

Bio
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Monica Tarriba

A Social Designer with a passion for human rights and gender equity. Monica’s design practice helps organizations reimagine their services and products using a systems thinking approach and an equity lens. By challenging fixed mindsets and cultural structures, Monica seeks to design towards equitable and people-first outcomes.

Play
Coming soon!