Media Design Practices (MDP) offers an interdisciplinary MFA for a world in flux.
We seek individuals who want to use media design to understand and change the world. We are looking for risk-takers with multi-faceted interests who pursue design and critical inquiry with depth, intelligence, empathy, and passion.
MDP offers two tracks: Lab and Field (formerly Media Design Matters). The curriculum for each is built on a project-based model in which students approach complex situations from multiple perspectives. But the time frame and context that structures each track differs substantially. Each track, in its own way, orients the designer toward the challenges of the future and the changing role of design.
In the Lab track, students work in a studio context, using design to pose questions through applied and speculative projects that engage with emerging issues in science, technology, and culture. From Biophotonics scientists at Caltech to Intel engineers working on beta micro-sensors, external partners bring expertise, resources, and the latest advances to the Lab track curriculum. Lab track graduates are prepared to assume high performing roles in domains that are future-oriented and whose effects are far-reaching: information and communication technology, foresight units, industry R&D, scientific research labs, communication media, knowledge production, infrastructure and public policy, and entrepreneurial or independent practices.
The Field track allows students to develop the deep connections and direct engagement with people that social justice-centered work requires. Field track students spend two terms working in a context that includes a community, a social issue, and an external partner. The partner for 2012–14 is UNICEF’s Tech4Dev Innovation Lab in Kampala, Uganda, where students will spend up to 10 weeks building relationships, conducting research, studying ICT infrastructure, and prototyping and testing their designs. The track is run in collaboration with Designmatters, Art Center’s social impact initiative. The field experience provides a model for the independent thesis work that follows. The cross-cultural, real-world experience prepares MDP/Field graduates to play a leadership role in situations of extraordinary complexity, impacting the critical issues of our time, working directly with communities, organizations, institutions, non-profits, NGOs, development agencies, corporations or design consultancies.
By having these two tracks side-by-side, we have created a vibrant dialogue and an unusual educational environment that is a hotbed for new ideas.
Both tracks share a commitment to inquiry through design, disciplinary and cultural hybridity, and a belief that critical reflection is at the core of an engaged design practice. With a focus on media and technology, we differ from other cross-disciplinary degrees that are grounded in industrial design. In an age of globalized information, our graduates are ready to engage with a world of cultural and technological change.
Anne Burdick, graphic / media designer
Elizabeth Chin, anthropologist
Chris Csikszentmihalyi, activist / artist / technologist
Sean Donahue, media designer / design researcher
Tim Durfee, architect
Ben Hooker, media designer / artist
Phil van Allen, interaction designer / technologist
Adjuncts and Guest Critics 2011–12
Julian Bleecker, Denise Gonzales Crisp, Elise Co, Rene Daalder, Paul Dourish, Fred Dust, Justin Gier, Shannon Herbert, Garnet Hertz, Luke Johnson, John Kaliski, Norman M. Klein, Jennifer Krasinski, Lust, Tom Marble, Jane McFadden, Mike Milley, Christopher Morabito, Thea Petchler, Jennifer Rider, Steve Rowell, Dmitri Siegel, Molly Wright Steenson, Holly Willis, Mimi Zeiger
Degree offered: Master of Fine Arts in Media Design
Core Faculty: 7
Adjunct Thesis Advisors: 10
Adjunct Faculty: 8
Guest lecturers per year: 26+
January Average Highs/Lows: 68º / 48º F