15 Years of Impact: ArtCenter Media Design Practices Dept.

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Anne Burdick May 6, 2016


burdick_anne_headWorking out of UNICEF’s Innovation Lab in Kampala, Uganda, our students spend months researching design and technology in the everyday life of the city. This graduate-level deep-dive challenges them to develop innovative approaches to design and social change, thanks to our collaboration with Designmatters.

International fieldwork is a requirement for students in the “Field” track of the Media Design Practices MFA, an innovative design degree founded in partnership with Designmatters. Our students experience the local effects of global systems firsthand, which gives them a wider perspective on social design in any locale. Issues such as gender equality, technology access, or migrant children can be understood within specific contexts—but also across cultures, political boundaries, economies, geographies, and ecologies. (In 2017 we will move from Kampala to Mexico City.)

To address inequity at any scale requires new design capacities and our graduates benefit greatly from Designmatters leadership in building this emerging domain. Both the LEAP initiative and Designmatters’ carefully cultivated network of strategic partners is the best evidence that the future of design and social change is one of possibility and impact.

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More directly, our students have had the benefit of serving as Designmatters Fellows around the world, from Myanmar to Paris. Building upon these extraordinary experiences, MDP/Field graduates have gone on to work for not only UNICEF but also prominent NGOs, multi-national corporations, design firms, and technology companies dedicated to positive social change, in addition to starting initiatives of their own. Thank you, Designmatters, for showing the way!



Anne Burdick is the chair of the graduate Media Design Practices (MDP) Department at ArtCenter, where she has invested in defining the future of graduate-level education and research in design. Part of the MDP’s core faculty since 2002 and the chair since 2006, she has overseen the creation of an innovative curriculum that won the 2014 Core 77 Award for Educational Initiatives. She is co-author of Digital_Humanities (MIT Press 2012) and was design editor of Electronic Book Review from 1995-2012. As the principal of the Offices of Anne Burdick, she is best known for the design of complex text-based projects which have been recognized by major design awards from the prestigious Leipzig Book Fair Prize for Most Beautiful Book in the World to I.D. Magazine’s award for interactive design.

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