Revolutionizing Care Through New Design Dialogues

“The need to understand what it means to solve problems for people, which involves all sorts of issues concerning privilege and power, will challenge designers for decades.” — Jamer Hunt

De Vries was among those first collaborators; the pair conducted a Burnout Innovation Focus Group on behalf of the UNICEF Staff Counseling department in spring 2019. Four years earlier, in surveys of more than 17,000 United Nations employees, Brown had uncovered notable levels of distress among staff. In turn, the counseling department tapped Brown and de Vries to lead corporate employees of UNICEF through exercises dedicated to shedding light on burnout in their office culture. Bringing together design thinking and brain science, the activities not only pinpointed causes of burnout among UNICEF workers but also helped participants find ways to identify and cope with stress.

“The program allowed me to do exactly what I wanted, which was to design across psychology and other disciplines for social impact.” — Hanna de Vries

The alliance taking shape between Brown and Transdisciplinary Design students like de Vries and Mahata is exciting but not unexpected, says Jamer Hunt. The founding director of Transdisciplinary Design, he currently teaches in the program and has led transdisciplinary initiatives for the university through the Provost’s Office. Hunt notes that the design professions are increasingly moving beyond production expertise and embedding user knowledge in practice. “The need to understand people — and what it means to solve problems for people, which involves all sorts of issues concerning privilege and power — will continue to challenge designers for decades.” Whereas de Vries came to recognize the need for understanding on her own, Hunt says, Parsons is uniquely creating conditions to develop this awareness: “We have patiently and strategically developed an infrastructure by which the movement of students across disciplinary boundaries is easier and easier.”

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
The New School

The New School

A university in New York City for scholarly activists, fearless artists, and convention-defying designers established in 1919. #100YearsNew