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DESIS Lab at Stamps

Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability: Stamps DESIS Lab

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DESIS, which stands for Design for Social Inno­va­tion and Sus­tain­abil­ity,” is a col­lec­tion of design pro­grams from schools and col­leges across the globe whose fac­ulty and stu­dents are inter­ested in cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful social changes in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other stakeholders.

The Stamps DESIS Lab, sit­u­ated within the Mas­ter of Design in Inte­gra­tive Design pro­gram at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, engages grad­u­ate stu­dents in using design think­ing and crit­i­cal mak­ing to address ram­pant inequities in soci­ety towards social and envi­ron­men­tal justice.

The Stamps DESIS Lab is led by Audrey Ben­nett, MDes Pro­gram Direc­tor and Uni­ver­sity Diver­sity and Social Trans­for­ma­tion Professor.

Stamps DESIS Lab Statement

Equity is a state in which all peo­ple, regard­less of their race, eth­nic­ity, socioe­co­nomic sta­tus, and var­i­ous other mark­ers of social dis­ad­van­tage, have fair and just access to the resources and oppor­tu­ni­ties nec­es­sary to thrive. Equity dis­par­i­ties often reflect rec­i­p­ro­cal influ­ences between biased or unfair poli­cies, pro­grams, prac­tices, or sit­u­a­tions that con­tribute to a lack of equal­ity in expec­ta­tions, cir­cum­stances, and qual­ity of life. Improv­ing equity begins with improv­ing access.

Major ques­tions the Stamps DESIS Lab aims to address include:

  • How might we use inte­gra­tive design meth­ods to inter­vene in our edu­ca­tion sys­tems, food sys­tems, and hous­ing net­works to address inequities?
  • How might we use inte­gra­tive design meth­ods to com­pen­sate for pre-exist­ing biases and prej­u­dice in Amer­i­can soci­ety and locally in Michigan?
  • How might we use inte­gra­tive design meth­ods to dis­rupt cycles of low expec­ta­tions that are rein­forced and per­pet­u­ated by social and cul­tural stereotypes?
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Within the Stamps DESIS Lab, each MDes cohort works as a pro-bono design research stu­dio of sorts, col­lab­o­rat­ing as a team on inquiry-dri­ven and evi­dence-based design along­side real-world stake­hold­ers, con­stituents, part­ners, com­mu­nity-cen­tered and place-spe­cific issues in the real world. The 21st cen­tury is rife with multi-causal, socio-cul­tur­ally com­plex issues like global warm­ing, health­care, food jus­tice, and poverty where a true-or-false ratio­nale is disin­gen­u­ous, unpro­duc­tive, and even detri­men­tal. Cen­tered in cross-dis­ci­pli­nary research, the Inte­gra­tive Design approach is adap­tive, uti­liz­ing var­ied tac­tics and strate­gies as the project or prob­lem requires.

At key moments, MDes stu­dents con­ceive of and host design char­rettes with com­mu­nity part­ners, stake­hold­ers, and other com­mu­nity con­stituents. These intense sys­tems and strat­egy design ses­sions lead to tan­gi­ble out­comes and rec­om­men­da­tions that address vital ele­ments of the cohort’s inquiry.

Sam­ple Projects

  • Design­ing Deci­sions: Care providers, patients, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers face a near-infi­nite num­ber of big choices when it comes to man­ag­ing health­care. Grad­u­ate stu­dents from the third grad­u­at­ing class of the Stamps Mas­ter of Design in Inte­gra­tive Design (MDes) pro­gram spent four semes­ters work­ing on address­ing appro­pri­ate care in health­care set­tings, includ­ing ways to sup­port health­care deci­sion-mak­ing processes through design. For more infor­ma­tion about the pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion deliv­ered by this cohort, please fol­low this link: Design­ing for Equity in Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion | MDes Sto­ries.

  • Car­ing for the Care­givers: How can doc­tors, nurses, and med­ical staff improve com­mu­ni­ca­tion with and sup­port of patient fam­ily mem­bers — and how does this impact patient out­comes? What guid­ing prin­ci­ples should inform design when it’s for some­thing as sig­nif­i­cant as end of life care? Grad­u­ate stu­dents from the sec­ond grad­u­at­ing class of the Stamps Mas­ter of Design in Inte­gra­tive Design (MDes) pro­gram addressed these big ques­tions through two sep­a­rate projects to design inter­ven­tions that help fam­i­lies and loved ones nav­i­gate the com­plex­i­ties of health­care sys­tems. For more infor­ma­tion about the pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion deliv­ered by this cohort, please fol­low this link: Car­ing for the Care­givers | MDes Stories

  • Mak­ing Jus­tice (forth­com­ing Fall 2020-Win­ter 2022): How can inte­gra­tive design approaches address the wicked prob­lem of global poverty and cat­alyze social jus­tice locally in Detroit? Mak­ing jus­tice” can be read in two ways. First, how can the process of mak­ing (fab­ri­cat­ing, design­ing, pro­duc­ing, visu­al­iz­ing) inte­grate con­cepts of jus­tice (inclu­sion, equity, diver­sity, access, and decol­o­niza­tion)? Sec­ond, how can the social process of jus­tice (in insti­tu­tions, civic spaces, legal sys­tems) ben­e­fit from inte­gra­tive design? Thus, mak­ing jus­tice is itself an inte­gra­tive topic, ask­ing how the value gen­er­ated through inte­gra­tive design can be democ­ra­tized, flow­ing back to the mak­ers — the com­mu­nity of stake­hold­ers, includ­ing the stu­dent designer. Mak­ing jus­tice” as a topic cen­ters the next MDes cohort, C6, around the power of inte­gra­tive design and its evolv­ing cross-dis­ci­pli­nary research approaches to facil­i­tat­ing access to equity by com­mu­ni­ties peren­ni­ally affected by inequal­ity in its var­ied social, envi­ron­men­tal, polit­i­cal, and socioe­co­nomic forms.
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