Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design Launches Minor in Design for Social Innovation

Published : Wednesday, March 22, 2017 | 5:01 AM

Anjuli Sethi conducts field research with local farmers in Hinthada, Myanmar, during her Designmatters Fellowship with Proximity Designs. Image courtesy ArtCenter

Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design will offer a new minor in Design for Social Innovation program beginning this summer in response to an increasing demand for this type of specialization in public and private sector organizations.

The minor is the brainchild of the college’s pioneering Designmatters department, which has been leading the conversation about design’s vital role in addressing society’s most pressing challenges for more than 15 years.

“It is very meaningful to satisfy the demand for this dynamic curriculum and meet the needs of our impressive students who are passionate about social innovation and dedicated to making a positive difference on society locally and globally,” Mariana Amatullo, co-founder and vice president of the Designmatters Department, said. “By implementing a minor in the field, we provide students with a specialized toolkit of skills based on experiential learning gained by tackling real-world, real-time issues that highlight the role of art and design in catalyzing social-innovation outcomes.”

Candidates for the minor are students who crave the mastery of multidisciplinary skills and the collaborative mindset needed to propel innovation at prestigious companies and organizations including UNICEF, IBM, Samsung and many more.
Among some of the award-winning work conceived by ArtCenter students excelling in design for social innovation include The Healing Tree, a comprehensive system to guide children who suffer from severe burns and their families through an improved treatment and healing experience, designed by environmental design student Alvin Oei; and Safe Agua, a multi-year design and research initiative that has yielded a number of innovative products and services to help families overcome water poverty in Chile, Peru and Colombia.

Other projects include Es Tiempo, a multi-faceted communications campaign, in partnership with the USC Keck School of Medicine and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, to raise awareness and support for the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer among Latinas living in Los Angeles; Flo, developed for young girls in third-world countries dealing with the challenges of menstruation without proper sanitary products; and Where’s Daryl, a violence and gun prevention teacher-toolkit designed to serve a diverse population of at-risk youth.

Initially, the minor will be offered in six departments that have a significant population of students with interest in the specialization. Those departments are Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Product Design, Environmental Design, Illustration and Fine Art. Students from other majors will be able to apply on a case-by-case basis.

The minor formalizes and expands upon an existing Designmatters concentration launched in 2010. The new specialization offers students a curriculum comprised of 21 units designed to be completed within the time typically required to obtain a degree.
Students seeking the minor will enroll in a mix of studio courses, transdisciplinary studio requirements and courses in the Humanities and Sciences.


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