“Design matters. It always has, and always will. But the nature of how design matters, to whom and to what end, constantly evolves. Designers solve problems. Today, our job is to find them as well. At Art Center, we endeavor to address problems responsibly, ethically and carefully. To do otherwise would be to ignore the full promise of our profession.”

Fred Fehlau, Provost


What We Believe In:


The Designmatters Concentration is where Art and Design meets social change.  It is about translating meaningful ideas into actionable solutions.   We’re about connecting your educational studies to your design explorations–explorations centered on critical issues that are happening now, that are affecting people all over the world.  As a Designmatters student you’re not just stepping into the world of social impact design, you’re also stepping up…to shape the future you want and to design a world you can thrive in.

Social impact design is dynamic. It’s ever-evolving.  And when you leave Art Center with the Designmatters Concentration, you’re poised to become a trailblazer in a field that is ripe for your creative contributions.

What Being Involved Means:


Choosing the Designmatters Concentration means diving into art and design for social impact.   You’re immersing yourself in an engaged form of education where you will find curricular offerings that are bold and compelling.

If you’re a student yearning for the chance to use the world as your classroom with the hope of changing it for the better, you’re a student who will consider the Designmatters Concentration.

Further Deepening Your Designmatters Experience:

Internships: We have them.  You use them–to gain an insider’s view about how designing for social impact looks, feels and works. Specific opportunities vary and are posted as they become available every term.

Fellowships: Three students every year.  Exceptional talent.  Deep understanding.  These funded, high-level awards based on exceptional merit offer the chance to perform humanitarian work on a global scale with organizations firmly entrenched in the world of international development.  Visit the Fellowships Page to learn more.

All Participation Is Valued:

Students wanting to experience Designmatters, but not as a Concentration, are invited to participate, collaborate and explore the world of social impact by also taking part of the ongoing set of Designmatters project-based courses that are offered at the upper term level.

What It Takes to Succeed in Designmatters:


Your ability to work under multiple constraints while maintaining your focus, your empathy and integrity are key factors to success within the Concentration.   A strong sense of self, paired with a drive to engage with the world around you and leverage your creativity to promote innovative solutions to social problems are a must.

What Makes Designmatters Matter:


Being a part of the Designmatters Concentration means taking action for your world.  The Concentration gives you the confidence and toolkit to contemplate many exciting career directions upon graduation.

“I’m designing in new ways now. I’m involved in using my skills to enhance someone’s life who might not have been considered before.”

Nubia Mercado Ramirez, Transportation Design Student




Seek Advisement with your Department Chair and the Designmatters Department


You’ll declare the Concentration after Term 3


You’ll have to complete a sequence of 7 required courses-for a total of 21 units



The framework for these requirements, which can vary depending on your major, are listed below:

1. You’ll take 3 HDS classes (Humanities and Design Sciences)

2. You’ll take 1-2 classes within your department that your Chair has determined to be relevant to social impact design.

3. Finally, you’ll take 2 or 3 Designmatters project-based studio classes. These are upper level classes with real world partners and real world outcomes, which often also fulfill your TDS requirements.

Designmatters Learning Outcomes are organized around 4 Core Themes:


1. Public Policy

2. Global Healthcare

3. Sustainable Development

4. Social Entrepreneurship


GET STARTED: Download the DM Concentration declaration form

LEARN MORE: Download the DM Concentration Handout

DM Concentration Featured student, Carolina Rodriguez


EMDRIA posterThe Healing Soldier Project

Fall 2015

Hosted by the Graphic Design Department





Fall 2015

Hosted by the Illustration Department






Testimonials from Students

“The true beauty of Designmatters is that it stands as a source of light and inspiration that promotes positive values and increases our understanding of a world that we are all experiencing emerge before our eyes.”

Jonathan Goldman, Advertising /DM Concentration Student