The School of Art and Design History and Theory is delighted to inform you of our brand new MA Program in Design Studies. Launching in fall 2012, the program will encourage this new generation of design thinkers to critically examine theoretical, historical, philosophical, and social issues related to design practice, products, and discourses. Below, some of our faculty share what most excites them about the program.
Susan Yelavich, Director, Masters in Design Studies program; Associate Professor, School of Art and Design History and Theory:
The opportunity to develop an expanded conception of design excites me. In the Masters program, we intend to get beyond the narrow and increasingly obsolete view of design as merely a series of professions with different disciplinary constraints. All acts of design—architecture, digital media, products, even those things produced informally in vernacular—carry the weight, promise, and responsibility of changing the way we live and will live. I’m especially enthusiastic about the prospect of cultivating lively and thoughtful design criticism, with particular emphasis on prose as a communicative style, parallel to the sensory properties of design.
Jonathan Bean, Postdoctoral Fellow in Design Studies:
I’m excited about the possibility for a program that brings together student and faculty researchers interested in aspects of the relationship between design and culture. I see interests coalescing around three broad areas connecting to areas of strength at Parsons and The New School: one, a track of “thinking the present,” or a history and philosophy of issues in contemporary design. The second area is metastudies of the design process, where we aim to better understand the work of design and designers. The third area, critical engagements, will attract the interest of students and professionals interested in building bridges between the deep reservoir of knowledge in theory and history and the challenges facing designers today.
Broadly, I work between the fields of material studies, consumer culture, and information studies, and I’m interested in the connections between culture and the use of space. My current research focuses on how design blogs are shifting the way designers engage with each other and the public. For me the Design Studies program is ideal because it is sited in the context of a global city and within an institution with an equally strong heritage in both research and professional design.
David Brody, Associate Professor of Design Studies:
This program will challenge preconceived notions about design and expand our understanding of how critical design is to our ever-changing world. Tackling important questions about design in the classroom in relation to ethics, sustainability, consumerism, functionality, and social justice will open up a new dialogue about how design can become an agent of change in the 21st century.
Hazel Clark, Research Chair of Fashion, Associate Professor in Design Studies and Fashion Studies:
After a decade of dedicated work, the School of Art and Design History and Theory has developed Design Studies through the undergraduate curriculum at Parsons. Now we are at the next important stage. Moving to graduate work further develops this unique strength in Design Studies, in the United States and internationally. Students entering the program will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to be taught by leaders in the field, while studying at Parsons, a school renowned for offering high caliber education in design practice. MA Design Studies will join a lively graduate community of MA History of Decorative Arts and Design and MA Fashion Studies, as well as the many MFA students at Parsons. These are exciting times; we are looking for students who will share this excitement and who are willing to explore with us the many opportunities for innovation which the new program will provide.
Sarah Lichtman, Assistant Professor of Art and Design Studies:
I am most looking forward to working with the new Design Studies students. It is exciting to be offering an MA degree in such a new and dynamic field and I imagine that the students will come from varied backgrounds, both professional and intellectual. The program promises to constitute a rich and energized graduate school experience.
Jeffrey Lieber, Assistant Professor of Design Studies and Visual Culture Studies:
What I find exciting about the new MA program in Design Studies is that it allows us to bring together art and architectural history, design history, film history, and visual culture studies in innovative ways towards the creation of new narratives for modern and contemporary culture.