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DESIGN FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION is the methodology of design applied to the creation of new models, products and services that address the complex social and environmental challenges facing businesses, governments, society and humanity.

  • We offer a uniquely holistic approach – at the intersection of design, social innovation and enterprise. We teach design as a tool for social and environmental impact, not an end in itself.
  • The DSI curriculum encompasses a broad range of issues including conservation, health, food and agriculture, poverty, women’s rights, social justice, fair trade, education and community revitalization.
  • DSI students work with real clients throughout the program, gaining hands-on experience with multinational corporations, non-profits and social entrepreneurs around the globe.

DSI is the first MFA program of its kind, heading into our fifth year. This is a program for people who want to write their own rules rather than follow them. Students from twenty-five countries have come through the program so far, with diverse academic and professional backgrounds. They join us because DSI fulfills a deep need that nothing else can – to go out and create positive change, using their own powers of creativity to bring ideas and enterprises to life that have not existed before. They are remarkable people, unpredictable and visionary. DSI alums are working in multi-national corporations, in government, at global NGOs, creative consultancies, and are running their own businesses. 

Three Key Areas of learning: 

• Immersion in the contexts and dynamics in which social innovation is taking place: in corporations, communities around the world, non-profit organizations, foundations and with social entrepreneurs. This immersion process is led by some of the most renowned experts in business, philanthropy, development and entrepreneurship.

• Theory and practice learning: the skills and tools required to frame problems, develop and incubate ideas, research, test and scale new businesses.

• Experiential learning: partnering with each other, with businesses and social organizations on real-world challenges both local and global.

Students work in teams with client partners, on real world problems, from the first year. Graduates are not only prepared to play transformative roles in business and society, they are already skilled and experienced in doing so. DSI provides students with the design tools, skills and experience needed to become creative leaders in social innovation— unlocking new worlds of potential through mastery of research, synthesis, problem framing, community activation, change models, storytelling, innovation, metrics, game design, service design, entrepreneurship, leadership and visualization design. Our graduates are skilled in the design of concepts, communities, organizational models, communication, information design, mapping and implementation.

DSI is for designers looking for engaging professional work that matters, for graduates in other disciplines who want to learn to harness the power of design to create positive impact, for social entrepreneurs who want the skills and knowledge to achieve their mission more quickly and fully, and for professionals who have been working in business and want to play a more central, strategic role in their industry. Our faculty, guest lecturers, networks and partnerships with business schools and accelerator programs comprise a peerless network of leaders with whom our students develop life-long relationships.

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School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587