Today the College of Design officially launched a search to find a director to lead the Colleges' socially responsible or public-interest design initiatives. Public-interest design lies at the intersection of design and public service, and it represents a new approach for the delivery of design services to people in order for everyone to live their best lives regardless of their socio-economic background.
"We see this as part of the emergence of a public-health version of the design fields," says Tom Fisher, Dean of the College of Design and pioneer in the public-interest design field. "Design has long had a medical model of practice, serving the needs of individuals, organizations, and communities that can pay designers' fees. But just as public-health grew out of the medical schools to meet the health needs of the global population, public-interest design has begun to arise out of the traditional design disciplines to create the products, environments, services and systems needed by all 7 billion of us and the planet on which we live."
The College of Design has been a national leader in the area of public-interest design. Its students and faculty have worked in places such as the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, in countries such as India and Malawi, and most recently with a studio in Port-au-Prince, Haiti At the same time, the college has convened conversations about this topic, including a recent symposium in partnership with PublicInterestDesign.org and Tandus Flooring, and has funded a report on the state of public-interest design - which includes infographics on the field and chronology of its history.
The University of Minnesota also has several well-established public-interest programs underway. These include the social entrepreneurial Acara program, the innovative Masters of Development Practice, and several graduate programs partnering with the Peace Corps.
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents officially approved this director-level position as part of its passage of the University's FY13 budget last Friday. More information on the position and how to apply can be found here: design.umn.edu/about/employment.
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