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New degrees from SVA expand the role of designers in society
Apr 1, 2011

Two new advanced degree programs in the field of design will be offered at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) beginning in the fall of 2012.
The MFA in Design for Social Innovation provides designers with the experience and skills they need to create, develop, scale and collaborate on world changing initiatives for the good of society and the environment. The department will be chaired by Cheryl Heller, founder of Heller Communication Design and board chair of PopTech.
The MFA in Products of Design aims to transform designers into strategic agents of change who can tackle the global challenges facing product design. The department will be chaired by Allan Chochinov, industrial designer and partner of Core77.
"Design has transformed the world. Now the world is demanding the transformation of designers," says Chochinov. "The MFA in Products of Design addresses the contemporary design challenge of production and consumption, encouraging new approaches to industrial-age methodologies and orthodoxies. Designers aren’t in the artifact business anymore; they’re in the consequence business."
Heller explains, "Social innovation strengthens society and creates new models and technologies through which we can address the challenges we face. By training designers to achieve results, the MFA in Design for Social Innovation helps practitioners move beyond good intentions to good outcomes, and creates a respected role for design in the world of social innovation."
These two MFA degree departments join a roster of established design programs at SVA that are socially responsible, environmentally aware and grounded in the principals of entrepreneurship and innovation. They include the ground-breaking MFA Design Department, also known as the Designer as Author program, which prepares students to excel as entrepreneurs and creators of original concepts across a broad range of media.
Founded just over a decade ago and co-chaired by Lita Talarico and Steven Heller, the program's alumni include Deborah Adler (MFA 2002 Design), whose thesis re-invented the prescription bottle and was later acquired by Target. Launched in 2010, Impact! Design for Social Change is a six-week summer intensive that introduces designers to the growing field of design for social advocacy. Chaired by Mark Randall, principal at Worldstudio, the program asks participants to address a pressing need of a New York-based non-profit organization or underserved community through design.

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