November 14, 2012

MFA in Collaborative Design announces Clean Beaches Design Challenge

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) at Willamette University
Cultural Entrepreneurship students investigate mircroplastic debris on an Oregon Beach. Photo: Laura DeVito ’13.

The Master of Fine Arts in Collaborative Design at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) in partnership with SOLVE is issuing the Clean Beaches Design Challenge, inviting teams of college students to design innovative solutions to clean up tsunami and other marine debris on Oregon beaches.

The impetus for the challenge came from the graduate students in Don Harker’s Cultural Entrepreneurship Class in the MFA in Collaborative Design program. Students had proposed several local issues to be addressed by designers and chose the tsunami beach clean up as number one. Then they reached out to SOLVE, a non-profit organization with a track record of bringing volunteers together to restore and maintain Oregon’s natural spaces with an emphasis being on beach and river clean up.

The tragic 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan had, and continues to have, a wide impact. The west coast of North America from California to Alaska has begun receiving an estimated 1.5 million pounds of tsunami debris which is expected to continue to wash ashore for the next five years. This is in addition to the 100 million tons swirling in the North Pacific Gyre. The debris poses a series of problems including financial, related to beach cleanup and the impact on the local tourist economy; ecological, including wildlife and invasive species; public policy, related to tsunami preparedness and land use; and logistical, related to the sheer scope of the problem.

Teams will submit their solutions to the Collaborative Design program’s CodePDX website. The deadline for entries is midnight, January 31, 2013. The top three solutions will be awarded cash prizes: 3,000 USD for first place, 2,000 USD for second, and 1,000 USD for third. In addition, any student on the top three winning teams who applies and is accepted into PNCA’s MFA in Collaborative Design will be offered a 2,000 USD scholarship.

The Clean Beaches Design Challenge is a competition for college student teams interested in tackling a complex problem with scientific, political, and social dimensions. The competition is designed to promote the practical, integrative, and exciting aspects of science, technology, engineering, art, policy, education, organization, politics, psychology, and community when applied to the real world environmental problems facing our society. Research, creativity, innovation, collaboration, and systems thinking are integral ingredients and key to the successful design for complex problem interventions. Teams will learn about the science of recycling and repurposing debris and will better understand the work of professionals in that field.

The final judging event day on March 9, 2013, will allow selected teams to present their designs, network with other teams, and receive feedback and ideas from the judges.

Guidelines for entry
For complete information about the Challenge including guidelines for submission and judging criteria, please see CodePDX, the website for the MFA in Collaborative Design.

About the MFA in Collaborative Design at PNCA
PNCA’s MFA in Collaborative Design fosters creative practices that require collaborative, experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving. Using design thinking and methodologies, students cultivate an entrepreneurial and critical approach to meaningfully address the emerging challenges of the 21st century. For more information visit and check out Collaborations, the MFA CD blog.

MFA+MA Programs
Portland, Oregon
PNCA offers five master’s programs as part of FIVE, the Ford Institute for Visual Education. These include the Master of Fine Arts in Applied Craft and Design (offered jointly with Oregon College of Art and Craft), the Master of Fine Arts in Collaborative Design, the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies, the Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies, and the Master of Arts in Critical Theory and Creative Research.


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