The Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan launched the first year of their new MDes in Integrative Design program in September 2015. Led by Associate Professor John Marshall, the two-year MDes program pairs a close-knit team of graduate student designers with researchers and industry partners at the University of Michigan to tackle issues around 21st Century Healthcare.
“Wicked problems in healthcare and well-being are some of the most critical issues in the world today,” says Professor Marshall. “In healthcare there are no quick fixes and no simple solutions: aging populations, chronic diseases, and lack of access to comprehensive services are just some of the urgent problems that need to be addressed. I believe that designers are uniquely positioned address these problems hand-in-hand with healthcare and well-being professionals.”
With a team of twelve Stamps faculty, MDes students will collaborate with up to 32 partner faculty from across campus — including C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the School of Public Health, the School of Information, and the Medical School — to test possible responses, actions, and solutions regarding 21st Century healthcare and well-being. In the process, the MDes cohort will also explore the practice of design: decision-making, collaboration, team management, production materials and techniques, and the technical and aesthetic requirements of the field.
In addition to leveraging robust campus partnerships and resources at the University of Michigan, MDes students will benefit from industry partnerships with Guardian Industries and inter-collegiate collaborations with the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The aim is to integrate multiple fields of study and areas of expertise with design methodologies to ensure a holistic, adaptive approach.
“At Stamps, we see design as process oriented — a way of integrating diverse stakeholders in envisioning, creating, and achieving common goals,” says Professor Marshall. “It is through the act of designing together that integration happens. It is design as a verb rather than a noun.”
While the “wicked problem” will vary from cohort to cohort, the 2015 group will document their process, stories, and progress over the next two years online: http://stamps.umich.edu/mdes.