#DesignThyself

This semester, I am co-teaching a class called Designing Change with Lina Srivastava at Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts. Students will be working in groups to collaborate with local non-profits, start-ups and community groups to design communications, conversations, and interactions that change people’s attitudes, habits, and/or behaviors. More on those projects later, but in this post, I want to talk about the personal assignments that everyone in the class will be doing individually along with their group projects.

In the spirit of heeding Gandhi’s challenge to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” #DesignThyself is a project where we will each design and document intentional and proactive personal change in our lives. Think of it as part new year’s resolution as art school project and part reality show. The personal change could be learning a new skill, picking up a new habit (or quitting an old one), or acquiring a new behavior response to certain triggers or stress. Possible themes include health, sport, language, cooking, reading, emotional life, meditation, or creative practice. We will document the before, during, and after of our personal transformations online and mark our posts with the hash tag #DesignThyself. (Another pedagogical aim of this assignment is to get the students familiar with blogging and social media.) The projects should be related to personal growth and self-mastery, but also light-hearted and fun.

My #DesignThyself challenge for spring 2013?

Gangnam Style!

From now until the end of April 2013:

  • I promise to study Korean at least 5 minutes a day, every day.
  • I will post about my process and progress at least once a week.
  • Before the end of the semester, I will go to Koreatown, where I will be able to practice my new Korean skills by ordering dinner in Korean, and…
  • Perform Gangnam Style at karaoke (or noraebang if you want to be culturally/linguistically accurate).

References and Readings
I have suggested that my students check out lifehacking blogs to get some ideas and inspiration for their projects. Here are some links that I shared in last night’s class:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/201212/5-big-discoveries-about-personal-effectiveness-in-2012

http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/2013-the-year-of-taking-control/?awt_l=9rbpI␣awt_m=3dp9HK1tvnMY4bn
http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/special/top-5-productivity-mistakes/?awt_l=9rbpI␣awt_m=3gwuR_jW0TMY4bn
http://zenhabits.net/fit13/
http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/12/06/tim-ferriss-interview/

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/01/06/how-to-fix-new-years-resolutions/
http://www.fluentin3months.com/

We will also be reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit over the course of the semester. Progress report and more insights next week!

Me and Ale in Fast Company

I recently appeared with my colleague Alessandra Orofino in the Fast Company article “An MFA Degree For Designers Who Want To Change The World” by Michael J. Coren.

So you want to change the world? Cynics may send you off to Wall Street or a white-shoe law firm. Those with gumption will look for another way. The new Master’s of Fine Arts in Design for Social Innovation has opened its doors just for them.

“We’re adamant this not be a program where people sit in a classroom and talk about how great it’s going to be when they go out and change the world,” says program chair Cheryl Heller at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York, and a board member of PopTech. “It is helping designers go beyond self-expression, which is how most designers are taught, and how to put [design] into practice to create a change.”

Read the full article here.