WTF is an MFA in DSI


I’ve had to trim down my explanation of DSI to communicate what we’re studying to relatives, family friends, and those intrigued strangers met at bars, parties, and events. Framing it in a business context seems to be most helpful for people to grasp what social innovation is about. Put simply…

What are you studying? Applying design to solving problems in business, nature, and society.

What does that mean? Design is creative problem solving. It applies creativity to business. We’re learning how to frame problems on a “big picture” level and prototype solutions. It’s a more proactive, participatory, and effective approach in the emerging innovation-driven economy.

Why is that important? The world is growing more interconnected and complex, and so are its problems. Business is changing rapidly and needs people who think creatively, understand systems, and know how to communicate across disciplines.

The MFA in Design for Social Innovation at SVA is grounded in systems thinking and cross-disciplinary collaboration. We’re learning how to apply the principles and ethics of social innovation to problem solving through design. We are architects, graphic designers, engineers, interaction designers, corporate strategists, artists, teachers and more — all focused on creating positive change in the public, private, and social sectors.


Areas of focus include:

  • Communication Design and Systems Mapping
  • Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
  • Ethnographic Research and Transmedia Storytelling
  • Community Engagement, Revitalization
Here are some helpful links about design thinking, systems thinking, and social innovation:
Design Thinking (via Wikipedia)
Social Innovation (via Wikipedia)
What is social innovation? (via Fast Company)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s