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I originally met designer Michele Ronsen at the AIGA Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders program in 2007 when the program was still in its original home at Harvard Business School (now at Yale School of Management). We hit it off back then and have continued an ongoing dialogue about various design-related issues. Last spring, while on a visit to San Francisco, I stopped by the Academy of Art University (where Michele teaches in the graduate design program) to discuss the emerging trend of design-driven social change. This video is part 1 in a 3-part series.

My apologies if it seems like I am continually geeking out on the MFA program at School of Visual Arts, but here I go again. I just received an announcement of a new summer program that seems perfectly timed for the current climate of economic, political, and cultural discord. Impact! Design for Social Change is a six-week summer intensive that will introduce participants to the growing field of design for social advocacy. Coming on the heels of the Aspen Design Summit last fall, and other programs with a similar agenda, this seems particularly relevant.

The program—co-founded by Steven Heller, Co-chair, SVA MFA Design and Mark Randall, partner at NY-based Worldstudio, will send participants through two parallel tracks; the first will focus on how to conceive and execute their own projects for social change with an emphasis on funding projects that are not client-based, and in the second track students will participate in the development and full execution of a team project that addresses a pressing need within a predetermined community.

A program with a more established track record is the AIGA Business Perspectives for Design Leaders at the Yale School of Management. This week-long program, which was held at Harvard for a number of years (including 2007, when I attended), is a truly lens-changing experience. For me, it provided a much deep and complete understanding of what it takes to run a business, from strategy to marketing, finances to operations, even ethics. One of the hidden benefits to the Yale program is the personal and professional connections that are forged through the experience. In the case of our ’07 class, I walked away with a vastly expanded network filled with relationships that I’ve leveraged many times since—our class is still very much connected. Be prepared, though, this is truly an intensive experience with high expectations for reading and class preparation that took many of us by surprise.

The Stanford D School, aka the Institute of Design at Stanford has been a pioneer in design thinking curriculum over the last decade. They are promoting Design Thinking Boot Camp: From Insights to Innovation, a three-day program that appears to be directed toward non-design executives who are seeking an immersion into the design thinking process.

Please add your suggestions if I’ve missed any noteworthy programs.

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