News and updates from MICA Center for Social Design
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February/March 2018
MASD at Globe Press 

The MA in Social Design (MASD) 2018 team spent a fun-filled day at the Globe Press on March 5th with the amazing Allison Fisher, Manager of the Globe Collection and Press at MICA who, along with Bob Cicero, mentored them through the process to each design, typeset and print a letterpress poster articulating their thesis "How Might We" statements. 

The students' Globe posters will help to promote the Social Design Exchange on Monday, April 23rd (see details below in Upcoming Events), where each student will share, in a brief video and TED-style presentation, the social problem they selected to explore for their thesis and the human-centered design process and intervention they undertook to understand and address it.
MASD Studio Visits in DC and NYC

MASD'18 had two inspiring days of studio visits in Washington, DC (February 26) and New York City (March 1) to observe social design in practice. The team observed a variety of institutions and human-centered design approaches in different contexts, including public, nonprofit and private sectors, and addressing a myriad of social issues and problems. Thanks to our friends and hosts in DC at The Lab @ OPM, the Booz Allen Innovation Center, and CoCreative Consulting; and in New York at the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), Public Policy Lab, IDEO New York, and  
Mike Weikert Keynotes DesignFest

Center Director Mike Weikert delivered the keynote address at MICA's first Grassroots DesignFest on February 24th to over 100 designers, students, and leaders from 15 community organizations across Baltimore. Mike introduced the vision, strategy and work of the Center for Social Design and challenged participants to consider the role and responsibility of design and designers in addressing equity and social justice. The DesignFest is a day-long "designathon" pairing diverse teams of designers with local grassroots nonprofits to help them address design challenges such as logo updates, website improvements, branding strategies, etc.     
D Center Convo with Social Design  

Ashley Eberhart (MASD'18), Associate Smile Indias (MASD'17) and Director Mike Weikert led a D Center Convo curated by the Neighborhood Design Center on February 7th. "Healthy and Safe: how can design help us build systems that work for everyone?" focused on building bridges between people in Baltimore City and the complex systems that impact their lives. Mike introduced the role a human-centered design process can play in community-engaged work; Ashley shared her work exploring how to keep patients healthy and safe by improving communication between caregivers, family members and clinical teams; and Smile discussed her ongoing work to support and build trust between Baltimore Neighborhoods and Baltimore Police. 
Intervention Design: Increasing Voter Participation

Visiting Faculty Cecili Thompson Williams, Co-Founder & Chief Strategiest at We Divine Water and Center Director Mike Weikert facilitated an Intervention Design module with MASD'18, January 29-February 8, to share methods and strategies for moving ideas to action. The two-week module focused on helping to develop an action plan to increase voting rates among students and build a culture of civic engagement at MICA. MASD worked collaboratively with BUILD, the first and largest network of community organizations in the country, to develop a strategy for increasing MICA student voting rates in the 2018 midterm elections and to build a framework that can potentially be disseminated and applied on other campuses leading up to the 2020 elections.
MASD Advances in UP/Start Venture Competition
We're so proud of both Ashley Eberhart and Valeria Fuentes (MASD'18) who were selected to pitch their start up venture ideas at the UP/Start Pop Up and Pitch event on February 2nd. The UP/Start Venture Competition focuses on incubating and building creative business ventures within the MICA community. Ashley has advanced to the final stage, which culminates with an event on April 4th where selected winners will receive start up funding to support their enterprise. Ashley's venture, Rising Action Studio, is an experimental, project-based home for designing, testing, and scaling new approaches to nonprofit storytelling.    
Center for Social Design Research & Writing Update

The forthcoming book, Public Interest Design Education Guidebook: Curricula, Strategies, and SEED Academic Case Studies, to be released this summer, includes a chapter by Directors Lee Davis and Mike Weikert entitled "Fundamental Skills: Developing Social literacy through Practice-Based Learning." The second in Routledge's Public Interest Design Guidebook series, the book presents a pedagogical framework and collective curriculum deemed most critical to pursuing an inclusive, informed design practice that meets the diverse needs of both students and community partners. 

MASD Faculty Lead Thomas Gardner has been selected as a recipient of a MICA Grant for Faculty Research and Creative Development for his project to investigate, study, and translate Le Volume Bleu et Jaune, an intensive, immersive architectural collaboration in the early 1970's. The grant will support Thomas's research at archival institutions in Paris and at the original project site in Rome, and an exhibition of original drawings, sketches, photographs and models. 

Co-Director Lee Davis has received a 2018 Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) research stipend for a residency in 2018-19 at RAC to continue his research into the unique collaboration between famed cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead and graphic designer Rudolf Modley. In 1966, Mead and Modley established Glyphs Inc. together with the intent of creating a utopian visual language and system of symbols that, they believed, could transcend language and lead to greater international understanding and peace.     

TMU grantee quote
Practice-Based Studio Update: Branding for Social Impact

Every Friday since January, a team of nearly 25 graphic design, social design and film students, faculty and alumni from MICA and the Moholy-Nagy University of Art & Design (MOME) in Budapest, Hungary, have been collaborating together on a unique trans-Atlantic research and design process with the Trust for Mutual Understanding (TMU). TMU awards grants to support direct exchange between arts and environment professionals from the United States and their peers in 30 countries. The project aims to redesign TMU's brand strategy to better articulate its purpose, mission and impact.

Over the last two months, the joint MICA-MOME team has completed an analysis of the current TMU brand and assessed the brands of TMU's peers. They also completed nearly 50 interviews of TMU staff, advisors, trustees, grantees and peer funders, across around globe. Faculty and students in Baltimore and Budapest visited TMU grantees in both cities, including the Center for International Theatre Development (CITD) and Single Carrot Theatre in Baltimore, and the Agency for Contemporary Art Exchange (ACAX) and SÍN Cultural Centre in Budapest, all fostering international exchange between performing artists. Following a trans-Atlantic process of synthesizing all of these data, and a shareback and interviews with TMU staff, the MICA-MOME team has now entered an ideation phase to begin to explore visual concepts for the brand.


Smaller teams consisting of students from both MICA-MOME are working together on evolving logo concepts that will be shared with TMU. In April, MOME EcoLab Program Director Bori Feher and MOME Graphic Design Chair Balázs Vargha will visit MICA to work with students and for a presentation and shareout of concepts with TMU in New York City. A MICA team will reciprocate in May with a visit to Budapest for a final class presentation of brand research and concepts with the TMU staff.

In summer-fall 2018, a smaller MICA-MOME team will continue the collaboration with the further development and articulation of the overall TMU Brand Strategy.     

emocha in FastCompany
News & Updates
  • Mengru Liao and Keerthana Ramesh (both MASD'18) organized a Maryland General Assembly Tour to Annapolis on February 21 for MICA graduate students to meet state legislators and to see legislative sessions in action.
  • Matt Barr and Molly Reddy (both MASD'17) hosted an introductory social design workshop with the team at Ashoka.
  • Smile Indias (MASD'17) has been selected as a Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Alumni Ambassador to build stronger connections between CGI U alumni from different regions, focus areas, and affinity groups.
  • Smile also attended the StartingBloc Institute in Los Angeles, California, February 22-26.
  • Diamond James (MASD'16) was selected as a speaker at "Beyond Big Cities: Creative Placemaking in Southern Small Towns and Rural Communities," the first Southeastern Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit, March 15-16, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Esther Kang (MASD'16) was part of the research team that produced From Voicemail to Votes, a human-centered investigation by The OpenGov Foundation into the systems, tools, constraints and human drivers that fuel how Congress engages with constituent input.
  • Kehinde Bademosi (MASD'15) facilitated a human-centered design bootcamp at Orange Academy, March 3-4, in his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Emily Pinna (MASD'14) documented the powerful personal story of TEAM STEPHANE, an effort she undertook with a community of colleagues and friends to save the life of a young boy in Bangangté, Cameroon. 
  • Emily also continues a visual storytelling project with the Centre de Createur de Mode au Cameroon (CCMC) in Yaounde documenting the intensive training of eight local fashion designers.
  • We're very proud of Amanda Allen (MASD'13), Chief Design Officer at emocha Mobile Health Inc., which has been named to Fast Company's 2018 Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Health.
  • Kyla Fullenwider (MASD'12) is a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the American University of Rome, and directs the AUR Honors Program
  • Briony Hynson (MASD'12) co-presented on "Activating Public Spaces for Play" at the Active Living Research Conference 2018, February 11-14, at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Briony Hynson (MASD'12) 
MASD Alumni Profile 

Briony Hynson (MASD'12) is the Deputy Director of the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC), Baltimore's community design organization. Founded in 1968, NDC is a nonprofit organization that facilitates the development of healthy, equitable neighborhoods through community-engaged design and planning services.

Briony was part of the inaugural MASD class in 2012 and subsequently awarded a Robert W. Deutsch Social Design Fellowship. Her fellowship work in East Baltimore focusing on innovating around models for community-built play spaces led to her position at NDC in Summer 2013.

Since then, Briony has taken great pride in being part of the woman-led, collaborative leadership team of NDC. A main focus for the team has been a strategic reboot, building on 50 years of community design, while refocusing and adding new and dynamic practices, partnerships, frameworks and research. NDC has more than doubled in size and budget in that time, and expanded services in both of its offices in Baltimore and Prince George's County, Maryland.

Recently, Briony undertook research in partnership with Dr. Carolina Vidal, Clinical Psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute. The research, "Activating Public Spaces for Play: Opportunities for the Built Environment as a Therapeutic Tool in Neighborhoods Exposed to High Levels of Community Violence," was presented at the Active Living Research Conference in Banff, Canada. In May, Briony will co-present at the upcoming Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit in Trenton, NJ, on "Co-Design Practices for the Built Environment."

As NDC enters its 50th Anniversary year in 2018, the organization has much on the horizon. Briony and the NDC team are in the final rounds of work on a guidebook codifying NDC's ethos and engagement methodology. Funded by the Cafritz Foundation, the project also involves Merrell Hambleton (MASD'15) and Center for Social Design Associate Director, Becky Slogeris (MASD'12).

In partnership with the Center for Social Design and many other community partners, NDC is also hosting "Reverberations: The Roots and Relevance of Community Design," the annual conference of the national Association for Community Design, on June 8-9, in Baltimore. More on the conference can be found here and in Upcoming Events below.

See more about NDC, Briony and her work at:


Upcoming Events

Asking the Right Questions: Design Research Bootcamp

Monday, April 2, 2018, 4:30-7:00pm
Yale Center for Engineering, Innovation & Design (CEID) Lecture Hall
Yale University
New Haven, CT
Center for Social Design Associate Director Becky Slogeris will lead a hands-on, professional skills workshop at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY) on how to do thoughtful, effective design research. The Bootcamp will introduce the human-centered design process with a focus on the research phase—meeting your target population where they are, asking great questions, and drawing deep insights from what you’ve heard.

Co-Hosted by Tsai CITY and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY)

Budapest grafika*
*Budapest Graphic Design

Monday, April 9, 2018, 7-8pm
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
Brown Center, Room 320
1301 W. Mount Royal Ave
Baltimore, MD
Balázs Vargha, Chair of the Graphic Design Department at Moholy-Nagy University of Art & Design (MOME) and Founding Partner of Stalker Studio in Budapest, Hungary, will share recent work from his practice and teaching, including a unique collaboration between faculty and students at MOME in Budapest and MICA in Baltimore.

Co-Hosted by the Center for Social Design and MOME EcoLab with AIGA Baltimore, MICA Graphic Design, and MOME Graphic Design.  


Social Design Exchange
Monday, April 23, 2018, 6-8:30pm
The BBOX, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
1601 W. Mount Royal Ave
Baltimore, MD
Join us for the Social Design Exchange, an interactive evening with the MA in Social Design (MASD) Class of 2018 as they share their thesis projects and processes.

Featuring: Franki Abraham, Jen Begazo, Ashley Eberhart, Steffanie Espat, Valeria Fuentes, MaeAnna Hassell, Mengru Liao, Kate McGrain, Keerthana Ramesh, Kimberly Schulke, Hannah Shaw, and Christina Yoo. 

Reverberations: The Roots and Relevance of Community Design
June 8-9, 2018
Neighborhood Design Center (NDC)
Baltimore, MD
MASD Faculty Lead Thomas Gardner is serving on the Conference Steering Committee for "Reverberations: The Roots and Relevance of Community Design," the Association for Community Design's annual conference, to be hosted by the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) in Baltimore in June 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Maryland Institute College of Art, Center for Social Design, All rights reserved.

For more information, contact:

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MICA Social Design · 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave · Baltimore, MD 21217 · USA

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