Design for Social Impact

Master of Arts in Design for Social Impact

Do you want to contribute to societal change? Do you see issues around you that you think could be improved or solved? Are you creative and entrepreneurial? Are you looking to work with likeminded people?

Paris College of Art joins forces with MakeSense in this one-year Master’s program (MA) in Design for Social Impact that equips citizen designers with the practical know-how (design thinking methods, leadership and entrepreneurial skills) to successfully lead design projects that will bring positive societal changes. The guiding question for this program is:

How can design change the world?

Each academic year students will work with faculty and partner organizations to answer this question on a specific theme – for the 2017-2018 academic year the theme is SHELTER (REFUGE in French). Students will research and design solutions to issues related to temporary or permanent shelter, whether it be a built shelter, a sanctuary, or a condition of increased safety and comfort. In a time of mass migrations, increasing pollution, lasting homelessness, youth unemployment and an aging population, students develop SHELTERS that make a difference.

Examples of student projects previously incubated at MakeSense include services to the homeless, products that protect from air pollution or programs that encourage physical activity in senior citizens to decrease the risk of injury and associated health costs. In the first semester students will work with a social entrepreneur in an on-going effort to apply the skills they learn, and in the second semester they will develop their own individual project that can be submitted for funding to different competitions and agencies.

This coming academic year we will also be collaborating with PUBLIC Journal, which is focused on and committed to the expansion of the Public Interest Design (PID) movement.

The MA in Design for Social Impact draws from the expertise of international faculty members in the fields of design for social impact and development, and the network of the MakeSense community of social entrepreneurs.

 

About MakeSense

MakeSense is an international organization bringing together 2,000 social entrepreneurs with 30,000 volunteers from over 100 cities in 70 countries. By putting together volunteers’ skills and ideas, MakeSense’s aim is to help social entrepreneurs create and develop their businesses and solve the most pressing issues faced by society in such arenas as: education, health, environment, food, etc. SenseCampus is the educational arm of MakeSense, offering dedicated pedagogical programs to get students to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals defined by the UN. Founded in 2012, it counts over 4,000 alumni and 20 academic partners, including the highest ranked business schools in France.

 

Faculty

Linda Jarvin copy

Linda Jarvin

Dean, Professor
Barbara Portrait

Barbara Montefalcone

Chair of Liberal Studies
Julie Sage

Julie Sage

Professor

MA Curriculum

Credits

MA One-Year Program

fall

Design Studio I & II

Code
MDES
Description

In the Design Studio, students will acquire the skills needed to develop, prototype and implement a social and urban intervention that seeds positive change in a community.  By using human-centered design research and design thinking methods, by adopting an iterative mindset and prototyping tools/techniques and by testing the prototype in-situ, students will explore what it means, the implication and effects of designing for the “real world”. Each semester is structured  around several projects to make sure that students circle through the three laboratory spaces available to them: a computer lab; a 3D lab for wood, metal and ceramics; and a “fab lab” with laser cutters and 3D printers, among other equipment. There is also time for students to receive individual tutorials and guidance on their project (social entrepreneurship project in the fall and final project in the spring).

Research & Methodology

Code
MDES
Description

Understanding users’ needs, desires and constraints is key to creating any successful system or artefact, such as art installations, games, apps, websites, products, services, etc. Design research methods can be used to understand stakeholder needs, create stakeholder empathy in the creative team, identify opportunities, move beyond obvious solutions, enhance concepts, test and evaluate ideas and guide an individual or a  team from the beginning through final concept evaluation using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Questionnaire design, participant observation, in-context interviews, self-documentation, participatory design, heuristic analysis, product ethnography and interactive testing using small number statistics are just some of the techniques used to improve concept development and objectively evaluate one concept or design idea over another. We’ll learn how to formulate research topics, use human factors data, gather ethical ethnographic data, use qualitative and quantitative research techniques, analyze the research results and present the information in ways that are appropriate to each stage of the creative process.

Social Entrepreneurship Project

Description

This course is supervised by PCA faculty in collaboration with MakeSense’s SenseAcademy. Students (alone or in small teams) are paired up with a social start-up in France – or remotely with a start-up in one of the SenseCampus incubators in Belgium, Mexico and Senegal. The course combines fieldwork with the start-up and guided instruction by SenseAcademy faculty. All the students in the course meet for half a day every two weeks and receive individual coaching and tutoring in-between as needed. The outcome is a written or filmed account of this semester-long service learning experience highlighting (1) the outcomes of the project, and (2) the skills and competencies gained by the student through this service learning project. One example of such a SenseAcademy project brought together 8 students to develop better suited exercise tools for senior citizens to help them maintain their mobility and physical well-being (SDG # 3) and can be watched here. Evaluation of students is done by PCA faculty.

Design Thinking

Code
MDES
Description

This course will combine review and discussion of the principles of Design Thinking with practical hands-on applications. One of the applications will be a two-day challenge with SenseSchool and other academic partners for an Innovation Game. SenseSchool regularly organizes the Innovation Game to business schools as an inter-campus competition for sustainable innovation. Students are split into teams and tasked to design innovative and concrete solutions to 20 challenges faced by real social entrepreneurs. At the end solutions are pitched by the students to a panel and the best ideas are rewarded.

Personal Leadership Skills Development

Code
MDES
Description

This course will be offered with faculty from SenseCampus and will be organized as a series of workshops on different topics. Typical MakeSense activities include Hold-Ups, MakeSense Rooms (MKS Rooms), and meet-ups. The leadership skills to be developed include communication skills (listening, clarity, persuasion), public speaking, team management, event organization, increased knowledge of legal matters, conflict resolution, and providing effective feedback. Hold-Ups are creativity sessions facilitated by a trained professional in which participants have to design a concrete solution to a social entrepreneur’s problem in a set amount of time. Students will develop communication skills. MKS Rooms are recorded events blending live performance and talks connecting art and social entrepreneurship. By using music and culture, the mission is to promote social business and make it accessible to everyone. Students will be involved in organizing MKS Rooms, learning team management, event organization, and public speaking. Meet-ups brings together people to focus on a topic, such as the different legal structures suited for social start-ups or constructive conflict resolution in small teams, or providing structured feedback to volunteers.

Masters Electives

Description

You may select an elective from the elective options bellow.

spring

Design Studio I & II

Code
MDES
Description

In the Design Studio, students will acquire the skills needed to develop, prototype and implement a social and urban intervention that seeds positive change in a community.  By using human-centered design research and design thinking methods, by adopting an iterative mindset and prototyping tools/techniques and by testing the prototype in-situ, students will explore what it means, the implication and effects of designing for the “real world”. Each semester is structured  around several projects to make sure that students circle through the three laboratory spaces available to them: a computer lab; a 3D lab for wood, metal and ceramics; and a “fab lab” with laser cutters and 3D printers, among other equipment. There is also time for students to receive individual tutorials and guidance on their project (social entrepreneurship project in the fall and final project in the spring).

Social and Urban Governance

Code
MDES
Description

In a globalized world of information, goods and people, cities seek tools for governance in economies characterized both by deregulation and new rules. In this context, the consequences on social fragmentation, climate change, and economic uncertainties of our urbanized world create and renew governance through new behaviors: agility, responsiveness, resilience, collaboration, civic representation. Political mobilizations, collective interests, and social concerns question this need for a revisited way of deciding and choosing what needs to be done in cities. This course covers theories and practices both in emerging countries and post industrialized economies in this new urban context : E-governance, participatory and social innovations, mobilization in decision making, urban empowerment, city co-production, development or design.

Final Individual Project

Code
MDES
Description

The final project can be either an individual project or a team project (with each team member receiving an individual grade), and it can be either a project that starts in the second semester or the continuation of the social entrepreneurship project started in the fall. It is our expectation, based on SenseSchool alumni, that about 1/4th of students will become social entrepreneurs, and that the final MA project will eventually lead to a social start-up. Students will meet as a group every two weeks to share ideas, submit challenges for peer review and feedback, and they will have access to PCA and SenseSchool faculty for individual tutoring and problem-solving every week throughout the semester. The project is evaluated by a jury composed of PCA faculty members.

Professional Practice Workshop Series

Description

Professionals from the Parisian art and design world will come in to introduce students to their professional practice and engage them in practical exercises preparing them for the job market. Instructors will be drawn from a broad range of fields: photographers and videographers; designer and architects; galleries, museums, auction houses and private collections; art fairs and international exhibitions; art dealers; curators; historians; journalists and iconographers; artists; magazine editors; I.P. and licensing lawyers, etc.

 

Designer's Social and Ethical Responsibility

Code
MDES
Description

In this course students are brought to think about the ethical implications of a designer’s choices on the life cycle of an object (materials, means and conditions of production, recycling, etc.). Each student will select a product or service and research its life cycle.

Master's Thesis

Code
MDES
Description

Students will document the research they conduct on the theme of their final project, as well as the research they have done on the cost and means of production of their project. One of the criteria for evaluating the thesis is the extent to which the student’s work is situated in an art-historic and cultural context, requiring students to conduct research using written documentation, artefacts, and the learning resources available to them in Paris (see section devoted to libraries and other learning resources).

Masters Electives

Description

You may select an elective from the elective options bellow.

Elective Offerings

fall

French

Description

Students take a placement test to be placed into one of three levels of French language: introductory, intermediate and advanced. Classes meet twice a week for written and oral exercises designed to strengthen vocabulary and grammar. These courses use dialogues, oral exercises, short compositions and literary texts to establish a firm foundation in the language. Students approach everyday life situations in French, while learning the fundamentals of grammar and the complexity of conversation. The intermediate and advanced courses serve as a more sophisticated introduction to French culture and lifestyle and as a means of consolidating grammar and vocabulary.

Still Life Photography

Code
FHOT 0500
Description

The main aim of this class is to provide students with the tools and techniques required to document their work in a professional manner in order to share it with prospective clients. Students in several graduate programs will need to be proficient in photographing objects and/or interiors. Photographing still life is different from portraiture or street photography, and requires mastery of lighting and mise en scène.

Concept Development: Storytelling

Code
MFFP 0508
Description

In this semester-long course students learn to quickly develop and research concepts to tell a story in images and words. The aim is to provide them with the tools, skills and processes that they will need to respond to a client’s brief in a professional and convincing manner. It is open as an elective to students from other departments, since the ability to come up with creative ideas, researching them and then “packaging” them in a compelling verbal and visual story is a key skill for any designer, whether it is to develop a story for a fashion editorial, an accessories line, or the concept for a new restaurant interior. The disciplinary mix of students also serves to prepare them to work within interdisciplinary teams, which is what they will be faced with in the professional world.

spring

French

Description

Students take a placement test to be placed into one of three levels of French language: introductory, intermediate and advanced. Classes meet twice a week for written and oral exercises designed to strengthen vocabulary and grammar. These courses use dialogues, oral exercises, short compositions and literary texts to establish a firm foundation in the language. Students approach everyday life situations in French, while learning the fundamentals of grammar and the complexity of conversation. The intermediate and advanced courses serve as a more sophisticated introduction to French culture and lifestyle and as a means of consolidating grammar and vocabulary.

Intellectual Property Rights

Code
MFMT 0512
Description

The I.P. course covers issues related to copyright, patents, contracts and liabilities as they apply to art and design. Students will learn about international laws related to copyright and patents and understand how to protect their intellectual property and the best strategies to adopt in different circumstances.

Overall Credits Total
30

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know that this program is right for you?

  • You care for the well being of others and future generations.
  • You want a career shift and to work on projects that make sense.
  • You have a passion for solving social and environmental challenges.
  • You wish to connect with like-minded people to accelerate or incubate a social design project.

How cutting edge is this program in comparison to similar programs?

  • The program is uniquely co-designed with Senseschool, an education program for the socially and environmentally responsible leaders of tomorrow.
  • The program is NASAD accredited and you will receive the highest standard of art and design education.
  • The program is practice based: you will be working on real challenges.
  • The program is supported by social enterprises and businesses with strong Corporate Social Responsibility.

What are concrete design problems or projects students can expect to complete?

  • Find sustainable solutions to fight digital exclusion.
  • Design connected objects for the elderly to exercise.
  • Empower informal communities to better recycle e-waste.
  • Devise solutions to improve the work situations of the disabled.
  • Design educational programs to optimize learning.
  • The topics are infinite: We welcome yours!

What are the prerequisites?

  • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  • Anyone with the drive to solve real social and environmental challenges is welcome to join the program.
  • Design, Design management and business / entrepreneurship backgrounds are always a plus.
  • An experience in social entrepreneurship, humanitarian relief and volunteering is greatly appreciated.

What are the credentials of the people teaching the program?

  • Marine Plossu has experience in service design and marketing, and founded Senseschool in 2012.
  • MIT and Harvard educated, Yasmine Abbas, is the Chair of Design Management at PCA, an architect and Strategic Designer,co-founded AMP (Accra, Ghana) in 2013 and won a Rockefeller Innovation Challenge Prize for the project.
  • Former researcher at Yale and Tufts, Linda Jarvin, cognitive psychologist, is now the Dean of Paris College of Art. She has extensive experience designing educational programs in the USA and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Faculty members have studied and worked internationally on topics ranging from participatory design to sustainable design and business.

What can I do with a MA in Design for Social Impact?

  • Change the world! Make it a better place!
  • Get support to launch your own social enterprise.
  • Join a Corporate Social Responsibility team.
  • Prioritize working on projects that matters.

Are there other graduate students at PCA?

PCA launched the MA/MFA in Transdisciplinary New Media in Fall 2015, and two MA programs in Fall 2016 (MA in Fashion Film and Photography and MA in Fashion Design: Haute Couture & Haute Technology.) Five new programs will be launched in September 2017: MA in Interior Design, MA in Accessories Design, MA in Design for Social Impact, MA/MFA in Photography and Image Making and MA/MFA in Drawing. PCA also collaborates with Toulouse Business School in offering English language MSc degrees in marketing and communication specializing in the fashion and luxury industries; and with the French engineering school École de Ponts in offering English language Master’s degrees in Computational Design. These programs draw student from around the world to the PCA campus.

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