FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GENERAL

1. What is Designmatters?
2. Why was Designmatters created?
3. What does Designmatters focus on?
4. What alliances have been established by Designmatters?
5. What is the process that organizations follow to collaborate with Designmatters?
6. What is the criteria selection for Designmatters projects?
7. What kinds of projects does Designmatters endorse?
8. How are Designmatters projects funded?
9. How are Designmatters projects managed?

INDIVIDUAL

10. How do I participate in Designmatters?
11. What is the Designmatters Concentration?
12. What is the Media Design Matters Program?
13. I am not an Art Center student; can I apply for a Designmatters internship or fellowship?
14. Can I participate in Designmatters projects if I am an Art Center alumnus?
15. What does the future hold for students who graduate with a Designmatters Concentration?

GENERAL

1. What is Designmatters?
Designmatters is an educational department and college-wide program at Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena California.

2. Why was Designmatters created?
Designmatters was created in 2001 with a college-wide taskforce as a way to engage Art Center students and faculty in social impact art and design, a rapidly expanding field.  Providing students with opportunities to connect their academic practices to design-based explorations of real world issues is an ongoing goal. Designmatters invites collaboration with other disciplines outside of the art and design world, like: science, business, engineering, and anthropology.  Within those collaborations is the potential for solving some of the big problems that confront us.

3. What does Designmatters focus on?
Designmatters focuses on four major contemporary themes as they relate to art and design:

4. What alliances have been established by Designmatters?
In recognition of Designmatters’ social agenda and impact, in 2003 the United Nations Department of Public Information designated Art Center the first design school to become an NGO, or Non-Governmental Organization. Other unique affiliations now include civil organization status with the Organization of American States (OAS), and NGO designation by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
These affiliations along with other ongoing partnerships with organizations such as the USGS (US Geological Survey) make Art Center unique among design schools today. They provide Art Center students, faculty, staff and alumni access to a prominent stage on which to offer original solutions to many of the critical issues of our time. They offer immense resources for expertise in many fields and myriad opportunities such internships, fellowships, research, and professional networks.

5. What is the process that organizations follow to collaborate with Designmatters?
The Designmatters Department accepts inquiries and proposals from a variety of organizations, and is chiefly responsible for ongoing strategic outreach to partners and funders that are aligned with Art Center’s educational mission. Following an initial screening by the Designmatters Department, selected proposals are brought to the College’s department chairs for review and integration as appropriate into the curriculum.

6. What is the criteria selection for Designmatters projects?
Designmatters projects are selected based on two criteria:

7. What kinds of projects does Designmatters endorse?
Designmatters helps structure many kinds of educational projects at Art Center, including:

8. How are Designmatters projects Funded?
Diverse entities help fund Designmatters projects, including Foundations, NGOs, International Development and Government Organizations, and private industry.
On average, every academic term the Department manages 3-5 funded projects, engaging several academic disciplines.

9. How are Designmatters projects managed?
Chief operational aspects include comprehensive support of project faculty and students, key interface with representatives from partner organizations, budget management, media outreach, assessment, and implementation coordination with partner organizations, archival of project and occasional publication development.

INDIVIDUAL

10. How do I participate in Designmatters?
Participation can happen in two ways.

  1. By enrolling in Designmatters elective studios and special projects.  There is an ongoing listing of upper-term studio courses and special projects that are facilitated through the department.  Not only can you participate in them, they often will fulfill your TDS requirements.
  2. By considering to pursue the Designmatters Concentration in Art And Design for Social Impact.  This is a formal course of study ideal for undergraduate students who are passionate about social impact design and want to master a toolkit of skills that will help them navigate the complexities of working with communities and designing for social change.

11. What is the Designmatters Concentration?
The Designmatters Concentration is a course of undergraduate study that includes 7 required courses, for a total of 21 units, which students can customize to meet their specific educational goals. Interested students should seek advisement with their Department Chair and the Designmatters Department to learn more about the unique opportunities that the Concentration offers.

12. What is the Media Design Practices Field Track?
Art Center’s Media Design Practices Program has partnered with Designmatters to create the Media Design Practices Field Track within the Media Program MFA.  The Media Design Practices Field Track offers an immersive and innovative course of study for graduates who want to work at the intersection of social and technological change.

13. I am not an Art Center student; can I apply for a Designmatters internship or fellowship?
Our internship and fellowship opportunities at outside organizations are for Art Center students. Unfortunately, we do not offer opportunities for students from other colleges and universities to intern or fellow in the Designmatters program.

14. Can I participate in Designmatters projects if I am an Art Center alumnus?
The expertise and networks of Art Center alumni are very important to the program. In the relatively short history of Designmatters, alumni have served as guest faculty, mentors, and program liaisons on a project-by-project basis. If you are interested in finding out more about opportunities for alumni involvement, please connect with us through inCircle or contact us by email. .

15. What does the future hold for students who graduate with a Designmatters Concentration?
In today’s world the stakes are high and the needs are great, and so the call for social and humanitarian designers is vast; Designmatters is helping to prepare students to use their talent and their knowledge to make a difference. To that end, the DM Concentration is redefining the toolbox of skills and experiences students master upon graduation. These skills are necessary not only to posses a competitive edge, but also for students to become leaders in both the social and for profit sectors. Artists and designers who are equipped with leadership skills, as well as the drive and integrity that it takes to tackle major social issues, will be the ones offering new ideas for wide-scale change.