December 4, 2014
In response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the University of Michigan Stamps School is hosting a multi-disciplinary, university-wide Design Charette* on January 16-18th, 2015 to generate design solutions specific to the Ebola outbreak.
Over three days, designers and key stakeholders from the Stamps School, the School of Public Health, the Medical School, the Department of African and African American Studies, the College of Engineering and the School of Nursing will work in teams to generate creative responses to three critical areas of the healthcare crisis:
- design of personal protection equipment
- health communication across cultural and linguistic barriers and,
- transportation of infected and diseased bodies
Stamps professor and industrial designer, Jan-Henrik Andersen is spearheading the Stamps Charette effort, “Like many of us, I have been following the Ebola story on the news and feeling quite helpless. As a designer, I can see that many of the problems that health officials are dealing with are design problems – from effective biohazard gear to transportation issues. We are a part of public university – we have a responsibility to respond in whatever way we can.”
Andersen is not alone in seeing the role design can play in the Ebola outbreak. Other schools and organizations, such as RISD, USAID and IDEO.org, are working to generate ideas that address the crisis in West Africa. Andersen wants to employ the wider expertise of the university in the Stamps Design Charette. He says, “I don’t think we fully understand this problem. That’s where our advantage as a major research university comes to play. An intensive workshop involving teams of designers and experts from public health, medicine, African scholars, engineering and more, is a powerful think tank for generating practical solutions to this epidemic.”
As for outcomes, Andersen is hoping to offer any design solutions that come from the workshop to USAID, Doctors Without Borders and other organizations involved with controlling the outbreak. Other outcomes include an exhibition and website to publically share workshop results.
Guna Nadarajan, dean of the Stamps School adds, “Such interdisciplinary collaborations provide exemplary models of engagement for our students where they exercise their responsibility as global citizens, apply their creativity and impact the world around them.”
For more information on the Stamps Design Charette, visit: http://stamps.umich.edu/special/ebola
* A charette is an intensive, multi-disciplinary design workshop engaging major stakeholders in a project under development.
Image: Tommy Trenchard for NPR