Design has typically held a siloed role in business. Designers are most often called in when a strategy is already developed, testing has been done, and audiences have been identified. While designers want a “seat at the table” where these decisions are made, it’s a challenge to obtain the education, experience, and understanding of the strategic issues involved to be able to take that seat successfully. And, as the business landscape continues to shift to include a bigger emphasis on the connections between business and social responsibility, the seats at the table are even harder to find.
An MFA degree in Design for Social Innovation at The School of Visual Arts can provide you with an important and unique roadmap for this new, socially aware business landscape. If you want to help lead business to a better future and transform your own career, apply to the SVA DSI program for an MFA in Social Design
Karla Despradel, ’17, earned her undergraduate degree in Communication Design. While at DSI, she worked part-time with a group of our alumni at the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, getting experience with healthcare innovation. For her thesis, she worked on community adaptation to climate change. Using the new skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, game design, data visualization and research, she’s now putting what she learned to work at Doblin, global business consulting firm.
Most graphic design education programs teach designers how to use communication skills to sell an idea and influence behavior. DSI adds to that direction with a rigorous program of academic and practical training where students use their powers of creativity to address issues of social justice, equity, health and sustainability.
Through an experience-based program, we help graduates gain entrepreneurial skills—developing ideas, evaluating their potential, and turning them into viable businesses. We team students up with leaders in business to help them gain the financial savvy to talk to investors, market products and services, write a lean start-up business plan and—most importantly—lead a team that can bring an idea to fruition.
Sara Cornish, ’14, just took a job that will likely change the future of education. When Sara Cornish came to DSI with an undergraduate degree from Vassar in Urban Studies, she only knew she wanted to use design to make a social impact. She loved her game design class so much she went to work for her faculty’s organization, Games for Change. Microsoft liked her so much when they met her there, they asked her to help make education more student-centered with Minecraft.
We don’t teach project management skills, we teach people-leadership skills. Leadership isn’t just a concept or a personality attribute; it’s a series of techniques for developing talent in others, guiding collaboration, and running a project or company. With in-depth guidance from instructors in fields such as philanthropy, healthcare and science, students learn how to conduct and evaluate research, how to develop insights from data, and how to structure presentations that can impact policy and make a difference in people’s lives.
DSI students draw on their design skills to analyze data, visualize abstract concepts, and map systems so that hidden human dynamics are unearthed and explored. They learn to initiate solutions to intractable problems from start to conclusion; identifying root causes, framing problems, generating ideas, prototyping solutions and measuring effectiveness.
This is not the stuff that traditional design education is made of. This is the stuff that prepares designers for leadership and influence in order to make an impact in the world. If you want a transformational career that’s better than any you can currently imagine—a purpose-driven career that utilizes your talent all the way up the career ladder—apply for the Fall 2018 cohort at SVA DSI.