Design for Responsible Innovation

The School of Art and Design is now offering a Master of Fine Arts in Design for Responsible Innovation (MFA DRI) that prepares students to contribute to the field of design in the form of practice, academia, or both. Students can explore responsible futures through research in traditional print media and emergent technologies such as data visualization, digital interaction, information design, systems thinking, and visual narrative. Students can choose to focus on one of four specialized tracks of study: sustainable and regenerative design, urban sociology and critical race design, visual and cultural studies, or student-proposed applied research in responsible innovation, social impact, and engagement.

As an interdisciplinary program, DRI faculty research addresses topics ranging from Afrofuturism and equity-centered design to sustainability and the fight against human trafficking. Fresh Press, a current ongoing project, strives to shift the paper supply chain from forest to farm. They make sustainable paper that renourishes the environment, a process that starts at the Student Sustainable Farm and ends in the studio. Professor Lisa Mercer recently codeveloped Racism Untaught, a toolkit for educators, students, and organizations that uses the design research process. Racism Untaught explores how design can assist in identifying racialized designs and critically assess anti-racist concepts. Mercer, along with DRI faculty members Juan Salamanca and Molly Briggs (BFA ’92 Art & Design, PhD ’18 Landscape Architecture), developed an interactive model or tool to help students think critically about the intended and unintended consequences of designed innovations. It offers designers a systemic perspective on the often-overlooked implications of innovative offerings and serves as a frame for developing sustainable solutions to complex social and environmental problems.

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