See all NewsEngineering News

Design for America Leadership Studio to Focus on Student Empowerment

The event will take place August 1-5 as part of the inaugural DFA Summit

During the 2017 leadership studio, DFA students brainstormed and prototyped solutions to make cities more welcoming and safer for people with diverse needs.

More than 100 students from 38 universities across the nation will converge on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, aiming to use the tools of design thinking to empower high school students by finding solutions for mental health support, mentoring relationships, and preparation for the jobs of tomorrow at the annual Design for America Leadership Studio August 1-5 on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

During the five-day event, students will learn about design, social innovation, and creative leadership.

Design for America (DFA) is a grass-roots, student-led network that began at Northwestern in 2009. A recipient of the 2018 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, the organization has spread to universities across the country, including Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, and Yale. More than 1,200 students from 140 different majors are now involved with DFA, where they identify social challenges using a human-centered design process and work collaboratively to implement solutions.

This year’s Leadership Studio, sponsored by Artefact, Archeworks, Macmillan Learning, CPS Lives, The Civic Tech Collective, and 3M, will challenge students to use human-centered design to support Chicago-area high school students to shape their lives and communities. DFA members will interview current high school students from Chicago and Evanston on topics related to mental health, mentor relationships, and preparing for future in-demand careers. The college students will then work alongside the high school students to iterate and prototype solutions and pitch their final products to guests and peers.

Members of the public and the campus community are invited to the Leadership Studio Project Expo at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, August 3 in the 560 Lincoln St. residence hall on campus.

This year’s Leadership Studio is part of the inaugural DFA Summit 2018. The Summit includes the Create Impact Conference, which will bring together DFA alumni and young professionals to use design thinking for social good in their careers and communities. The Summit also includes the invitation-only DFA Symposium, a series of workshops that will challenge DFA mentors, design educators, and industry professionals to transform how to bring design innovation to demanding social issues.

Other highlights of the Summit include:

  • Keynote speeches from Maris Garcia, design lead for diversity and inclusion at the University of Chicago’s Office of the Provost; Joanna Klonsky, communications strategist at JKCS; and Katherine Duong, design, technology, and innovation fellow at the City of Austin
  • A panel discussion on “Ethics of Social Innovation” featuring Jessie Silver, MFA candidate in the Design + Social Innovation program at the School of Visual Arts (DSI@SVA); Monique Wingard, founder at The Civic Tech Collective; Sandy Guberti-Ng, MFA candidate at DSI@SVA; and Jared Crane, senior user experience designer – courseware at Macmillan Learning
  • A workshop on “Designing Your Life” taught by Kelly Costello, CEO at Panorama Innovation
  • A discussion on “Impact Through Work” featuring Hugh Dubberly, principal of Dubberly Design Office; Arianne Miller, managing director at The Lab @ OPM; and Dan Pink, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
  • A public DFA Summit Career Mixer hosted at mHUB in Chicago