Tag Archive: design
From Ideas to Acts

A report from Min Yeh, Fall 2014 DSI post-graduate fellow

Fall 2014 DSI Post-graduate Fellow Min Wen Yeh spent the last several months building upon the work of her thesis project, The Bridge, which addresses design tools and methods for cross-cultural interaction and group collaboration. Her thesis project included a toolkit for students bridging highly motivated mindsets to positive cultural adaptation behaviors. During the Fellowship, Min further developed the thesis work through designing and testing educational tools in the ESLI program at UArts, and built a conceptual / behavioral / pedagogical model.

To explore Min’s project in more detail, see the final documentation, Leading Ideas to Acts, as well as the facilitation guide and tools she developed, My Journey Maps.

The Design for Social Impact Post-graduate Fellowship provides exceptional graduates of the program the opportunity to implement and measure the impact of their thesis work as applied within the Philadelphia community. Additionally, the Fellow will make a significant contribution to the graduate program by serving as a mentor to current students and promoting the work of the program in support of our recruitment efforts.

Min Yeh’s fellowship was generously sponsored by the Design for Social Impact MDes graduate program, the Office of the Provost, and International Student Programs at The University of the Arts.

From Ideas to Acts
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by Jeremy Beaudry.
DESIGNchallenge Panel

Fox DESIGNchallenge 2015
A Panel Discussion on Mass Transit, Car Culture, & The Quality Of Urban Life

Thursday, February 12, 6 – 8pm
Terra Hall, 5th Floor
The University of the Arts
211 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Register for the Event

Please join a panel of distinguished professionals as we open a discussion on a range of issues and case studies relevant to the Fox DESIGNchallenge 2015 theme: Mass Transit, Car Culture, & The Quality Of Urban Life in Philadelphia.

Panelists include:

  • Jon Geeting (Moderator)
    Engagement Editor – Plan Philly

  • Darwin R. Beauvais, Esq., LEED AP
    Attorney – Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, P.C.

  • Jennifer Barr, AICP
    Senior Long Range Planner – SEPTA

  • Denise Goren, Esq.
    Director of Policy and Planning – City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities

  • Christopher M. Puchalsky, Ph.D.
    Deputy Director, Transportation Planning – Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Register for the Event

About the 2015 Challenge

Philadelphia grew up around its dense, colonial street grid, which laid the perfect foundation for walkable, transit- oriented communities. This is one reason why Philadelphia is one of the top 5 cities in the country with commuters walking, biking, or using transit. And yet even with accessible transit, the 20th century ideal of car ownership persists. Philadelphians believe that we can do better.

The American Public Transportation Association estimates that the average Philadelphia household can save close to $12,000 per year by eliminating one car and riding transit. These savings would help bolster struggling families, businesses, and communities across the city. The environmental dividend would also be significant – riding SEPTA reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality.

How can we change our transit system and car culture to achieve the economic, social, and environmental dividends from a less auto-centric future?

Fox DESIGNchallenge

The Fox DESIGNchallenge is an annual civic innovation competition to transform great ideas into actions. It brings together a diverse mix of students to collaborate across disciplines to create solutions to today’s most challenging urban issues.

Each year over 150 students participate from Temple University, the University of the Arts, and collaborating universities and select Philadelphia high schools.

Student teams interview civic, business and community leaders, research areas of interest, identify problems and opportunities and design solutions that are environmentally responsible, economically sustainable, and humanly satisfying.

The Challenge is organized by the Center for Design+Innovation at Temple’s Fox School of Business and the Design for Social Impact Program at the University of the Arts.

This year’s Challenge is funded in part by of The Knight Foundation and US Economic Development Agency through their support of Temple’s Urban Apps and Maps Studios.  Proposals developed by the teams form an open source library of civic innovation ideas through the Urban Apps+Maps Studios.

More information at

DESIGNchallenge Panel
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This entry was posted on Thursday, February 5th, 2015 at 11:14 am by Jeremy Beaudry.
DSI at BWxD14

Reflection on BWxD14 by DSI Director Jeremy Beaudry

I had the great pleasure to attend for the second time A Better World By Design in Providence, RI, an annual gathering of students, educators, and professionals which is organized by students at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. Many kudos go out to the student organizers and volunteers, who have consistently managed one of the most engaging and well-run design conferences I have been to — from the delicious meals and efficient waste management (diligent recycling and composting) to the roster of impressive presenters to the energizing social events. Accompanying me were 2nd year graduate student, Davis Hermann, and post-graduate fellow, Min Yeh, who share some of their reflections on the conference in subsequent posts (part II and part III).

We go to BWxD to meet with other like-minded students and practitioners who share our belief that designers have an important role to play in making meaningful change in the world, whether our own backyards or further afield in more remote locations with a host a partners and stakeholders. The conference presents an amazing opportunity to share the work we do at UArts and connect with potential partners and guests, possible employers for our students, and future DSI graduate students. With so many connections made and stories exchanged, I ended the weekend with an overwhelming sense of having found a real community of people (from within design but also other disciplines) who are passionate about the power of design help create the sustainable, just world we wish to see.

A few highlights for me personally:

>> Marc O’Brien, BWxD veteran and super-connector, kicked off the conference with a series of stories pointing to the power and importance of relationships in creating the foundation for how we do good work — together. Marc also facilitated a couple of really well-run design thinking workshops that demonstrated how smart people with a couple of hours and clear scaffold can generate a great deal of creative approaches to any number of problems.

>> Friday ended with a bang. The last speaker session paired talks by Sarah Williams, Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT, and Michael Ben-Eli, founder of the Sustainability Laboratory. Sarah presented several detailed case studies of projects by the Civic Data Design Lab which demonstrate the use of dynamic data and spatial mapping to discovery deep patterns and insights within complex socio-spatial issues. Michael took us on an ambitious philosophical journey exploring the “cosmic function of design” and the many great challenges we face in the face of catastrophic, irreversible climate change. He argued for design as a force for sustainability which can and should account for interdependency, contain entropy, and enhance and maintain diversity. Paired together, these two talks expressed a wonderful synthesis of both the context of our most pressing challenges as well as the tools we might use to address them. I carried these thoughts with me as we found our way later Friday night to the BWxD BBQ & beer party, where we met lots of new friends and strained to hear about each others’ projects over the very loud and danceable music.

>> I met too many interesting people to recount here, yet the clear highlight for me of the conference was learning about so many designers, initiatives, programs and small- to mid-sized design firms who are really making a place for themselves in this emerging space of social design. Granted, we social designers have much to do to evaluate the impact we’re having, as well as to problematize our work and methods and mature as a field (if it could be called that). But the community is here and it is robust and the opportunities are exciting.

Read reflections by Davis Hermann (2nd Year graduate student) and Min Yeh (post-graduate fellow).

DSI at BWxD14
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 at 10:42 am by Jeremy Beaudry.
Supporting the City of Philadelphia’s FastFWD Civic Innovation Program

As the MID program transitions to our new name, Design for Social Impact, and continues to build on the strength of our previous social design work, we’re looking to engage more directly in the space of civic innovation in our home city of Philadelphia. To that end, we are pleased to announce a truly exciting project for our graduate students this semester in FastFWD, a program which gives social entrepreneurs the opportunity to collaborate with cities to source, cultivate, and deploy solutions to pressing problems facing cities across the country. FastFWD was created through the City of Philadelphia’s participation in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, which is a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life. The program was initiated by the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, GoodCompany Group, a social enterprise accelerator, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, and this team identified public safety as the first area of focus to be addressed. Based on the strength of our previous collaborations with the GoodCompany accelerator, it invited us into the project to share our design expertise with the participants as a complement to the FastFWD program’s core business curriculum.

MID / Design for Social Impact faculty and graduate students, as well as students from the Museum Exhibition Planning and Design MFA and undergraduate Industrial Design programs, are partnering with GoodCompany to create a robust curriculum for social entrepreneurs that integrates human-centered design process and methodology into the very fabric of the FastFWD accelerator program. Our team is facilitating a collaborative design process in order to lead entrepreneurs through an iterative development cycle to meet their highest potential for social innovation. We’ve built our design curriculum to support the FastFWD entrepreneurs with rigorous design research, integrative thinking, rapid prototyping, and a participatory, collaborative methodology to meet the demands of complex social, environmental, and business issues like those identified by these dynamic businesses.

Just one week into the program working with the FastFWD entrepreneurs, we’ve already been deeply impressed by the passion, commitment, and inventiveness that these companies exhibit. As we get to know each other better and discover their various capacities, we look forward to playing a supporting role in helping them to build strong businesses that will make demonstrable impact in the area of public safety in Philadelphia and cities elsewhere. We believe that emphasizing the needs and desires of the people at the heart of complex social issues allows us to work with a range of stakeholders to help develop pragmatic solutions that address real problems. At the same time, we are committed to making our design methods and tools accessible to these entrepreneurs so that they too can take advantage of the creative tools we bring to the process beyond the timeframe of the FastFWD program. Over the next 12 weeks, faculty and students will be posting many more reflections on our work in FastFWD, sharing what we learn along the way.

Supporting the City of Philadelphia’s FastFWD Civic Innovation Program
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 at 1:43 am by azahn123.
We Are Design for Social Impact

Over the last few years, the MID program has struggled with a minor identity crisis in that the degree offered and program name — Master of Industrial Design — do not authentically reflect the content of the program, its educational goals, and the pathways our students embark on upon graduation. This hasn’t mattered so much to us in terms of actually doing the design work we do: using design process, methods, and tools to create meaningful impact with our many partners in the business, nonprofit, and civic sectors. But, this disconnect between our curriculum and our name has posed real challenges in terms of recruiting the kinds of amazing students we do have and intend to have entering into the program. Being “not really an Industrial Design program” has not served us in being able to clearly articulate our story and the value we create to the outside world.

The MID program is now transitioning to become Design for Social Impact.* Through our partnership projects and our students’ many thesis projects, we’ve built an impressive track record in demonstrating the power of design to create meaningful change in the world, and now we continue that work under a more authentic brand. Building on that track record, Design for Social Impact prepares students to become leading agents of social change, instrumental in fostering strategic creativity, organizational learning, and community engagement. The program promotes a social design process that facilitates collaborative projects across disciplines, and that produces actionable models and scenarios to create sustainable change. Our process is hands-on, action-oriented, and highly visual, and the needs and desires of people and organizations exist at the center of our work. We recognize the need to balance ecological, social, and economic values in the development of innovative solutions. We offer design input when it matters most: at the earliest stages of the development cycle and in particular during the initial project definition. Our models and prototypes manifest collective learning and capture emergent assumptions and insights. Project outcomes range from new service models, design for user experience, strategies and tools for community engagement, and the development of social entities, organizations, new businesses and initiatives.

Design for Social Impact. This is who we are.

To learn more about the Design for Social Impact program, please visit We are now accepting applications for the Fall 2014 semester.

* Pending final University approval in Spring 2014.

We Are Design for Social Impact
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 at 4:33 pm by azahn123.
Reaching Across Cultures: International Design Initiatives at The University of the Arts
DesignPhiladelphia 2013
ThursdayOctober 17
6:00PM to 8:00PM
Terra Hall, University of the Arts
211 South Broad Street

With the increasing complexity of social, technological, and ecological challenges, design practice has subsequently expanded its focus to become a significant agent of social transformation and innovation. Designers have at their disposal a number of tools and methods which give them a unique ability to partner with communities, organizations, and businesses to help initiate meaningful change. But how do these design tools and methods translate across cultural, linguistic, and geographical lines? And how do the underlying assumptions and values embedded within these practices sit within other cultural contexts? How do designers most appropriately enter into these cultures? Reflecting on these questions, students and faculty from the undergraduate and graduate Industrial Design programs at The University of the Arts will discuss two recent design collaborations in Kenya and Beirut, Lebanon that explore the challenges inherent for designers working in global contexts.

In this DesignPhiladelphia blog feature, Prof. Jeremy Beaudry explains further the motivations and objectives for the event:

Reaching Across Cultures: International Design Initiatives at The University of the Arts
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 3:55 pm by azahn123.
Design Professionals of the Post-Professional Era

Fuajia Amin, a first year student in the MiD program, reflects on her understanding of the role of the designer.This post was originally posted on Fuajia’s blog on October 3, 2013.

I remember one of my first industrial design projects; I was a sophomore at Virginia Tech and this was the point in the program where students were taught the design process. I was in the process of learning how to research, iterate, sketch, create prototypes, do 3d models and render them. When I completed this project, I felt so proud of myself; I had created something on my own from the beginning to the end and I actually liked the end result. Today, design seems to be taking a direction that is allowing more and more people to experience something similar to this feeling of accomplishment that one feels after creating.

“Yet, to my mind, the most significant boundary currently not only being crossed but being dismantled is the boundary between professional and amateur, or more pertinently, between designer and user.” (Atkinson, 30). This statement raised some questions and thoughts in my mind. Though I see myself as a professional, I wondered when I stopped viewing myself as an amateur. Was it supposed to be after I got my undergraduate diploma? Whenever it was, the issue that arises from these boundaries being crossed or dismantled is the negative way in which some people, especially professionals, view the situation. Many feel as if the role of the professional will be devalued, but I do not fully agree with that argument. Having access to design tools does not make someone a designer. Even if everyone had access to a 3d printer, many will still make rubbish until someone teaches them the skill or until they encounter an easily identifiable need. Having this access also does not devalue those who went to school for design, instead I believe it leads to more opportunities for collaboration between professionals and amateurs.

I believe this is where one can truly see the difference between professionals and amateurs; designers have a better understanding of all the different aspects that go into a design while amateurs tend to see only the immediate need or want. It is important to note that designers are the ones responsible for making design tools more accessible to the masses or for making design more self driven through the DIY approach and other methods. Designers are helping non-designers to feel less dependent and able to help themselves. In a way, I see the designer who is able to create this as an “advanced” professional because they are not only designing a product; they are designing experiences that allow people to feel confident and creative. They have a better understand of the individual’s need beyond the product.

Design is more than just a profession to me; it is more about solving problems and delivering services whether they are concrete, abstract or emotional. As designers, we can design tools that allow people to feel similarly to how I felt when I completed one of my first design projects. I believe that if we focus too hard on the profession part of design, we can get a little self focused and possibly have a hard time accepting changes which can push us to grow as professionals. If we see ourselves more like experts at solving problems, creating experiences and providing services, we are able to discover new forms of design and opportunities around us that also lead us to be better well rounded designers.

Source cited: Boundaries? What Boundaries? The Crisis of Design in a Post-Professional Era, P. Atkinson – 8th European Academy of Design Conference – 2009

Design Professionals of the Post-Professional Era
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This entry was posted on Friday, October 25th, 2013 at 5:40 am by azahn123.
MID Students and Faculty Travel to Beirut

With the increasing complexity of social, technological, and ecological challenges, design — as a process and a way of thinking — has subsequently expanded its focus to become a leading agent of social transformation and innovation. Designers have at their disposal a number of powerful tools and methods which give them a unique ability to initiate meaningful change in communities, organizations, and businesses. But how do these design tools and methods translate across cultural, linguistic, and geographical lines? And how do the underlying assumptions and values embedded within these practices sit within in other cultural contexts?

With these questions in mind, four MID graduate students (Vrouyr Joubanian, Nidhi Jalwal, Min-Wen Yeh, Jordan Shade) and MID faculty member, Prof. Jonas Milder, travelled to Beirut, Lebanon on June 3rd to begin a design research project exploring the translation of design methods and tools across cultures. Through workshops and focused fieldwork, the MID team will initiate a month-long design collaboration with Lebanese students and designers in which they together will explore the shifting definition and application of design methods and tools in the Beirut context. The project will culminate with an exhibition and public presentation and discussion of the experience by the MID graduate students and MID Program Director, Prof. Jeremy Beaudry, during the 2nd annual Beirut Design Week, a series of exhibitions, conferences, workshops, and screenings which explores the role of design in contemporary culture, society, education and economy (June 24-30).

This project is generously supported by The University of the Arts Faculty and Academic Development Fund, with special assistance from Associate Provost Jim Savoie. Essential to the project has been our partnership with the MENA Design Research Center, a Beirut-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the understanding of design and developing its role as a creative tool for the enhancement of society at large in the Middle East and North Africa. Doreen Toutikian, Director MENA DRC & Co-Founder, has been instrumental in helping us frame the project and organize the logistics for our visit. Studio work space for the MID team has been kindly provided by AltCity, a co-working and incubator space created to facilitate, mobilize, encourage, and support high impact entrepreneurship and innovation in Lebanon and the region.

MID Students and Faculty Travel to Beirut
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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2013 at 3:22 pm by azahn123.
Recent MID Grads Kelly Babcock & Alex Visconti Will Present at ‘Design-Ed Future 2013’

Recent alumnae Kelly Babcock MID ‘13 (Industrial Design) and Alex Visconti MID ‘13 (Industrial Design) will present their thesis work “Truss: A Partnership for Design and Education” at “Design-Ed Future 2013: Design Education Conference” being held June 28 and 29 at the University of the Arts. The presentation will take place during the Design-Ed Future’s “unconference” segment on Friday, June 28 from 3:00-4:30pm.

During the first year of their studies, Babcock and Visconti explored the world of alternative learning spaces through their work with YouthBuild Charter School, a vocational charter school for high school dropouts, and the Free Library of Philadelphia teen services. They employed design research methods, such as ethnographic observation and interviewing as well as generative participatory activities, to gain a deep understanding of issues such as chronic low attendance, and how to build programming and physical spaces for young adults.

This experience naturally led them to focus their thesis work within public, secondary education. “Truss: A Partnership for Design and Education” outlines a model for partnership between university design students and public school teachers to support the implementation and sustainability of design-based learning.

It tells the story of Babcock and Visconti’s own experience working with a principal intern/American history teacher at the Franklin Learning Center, a high school in the Philadelphia public school system, where they implemented a design-based learning project to build 21st century skills in a class of junior students.

This experience provided the opportunity to outline the roles, responsibilities and relationships between the design student and public school teacher. Through this innovative model for partnership, they hope to alleviate some of the main stresses or obstacles teachers face when implementing a new way of teaching.

Babcock and Visconti will be speaking about their experience as designers in the classroom, and will be focusing their discussion on the five things they found to be most influential in shaping the roles and relationship between the university design student and the teacher. These key learnings include lesson and activity planning, direct instruction and facilitation, building creative confidence, assessment of understanding, and organizing reflection.

Their presentation will be followed by time for Q&A and discussion.

Recent MID Grads Kelly Babcock & Alex Visconti Will Present at ‘Design-Ed Future 2013’
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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013 at 11:32 am by azahn123.