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MICA Social Design Receives 2014 Ashoka U – Cordes Innovation Award

Center for Design Practice Recognized for its Innovative Work to Address Complex Social Problems Through Design

Posted 12.19.13 by MICA Communications

Real Food Farm mobile farmers market, a CDP project, opens for business.

The Center for Design Practice (CDP) at MICA, an inter-disciplinary, social design studio dedicated to preparing the next generation of creative changemakers, has been selected as a winner of the 2014 Ashoka U - Cordes Innovation Award in recognition of its innovative work to address complex social problems through design.

The prestigious Ashoka U - Cordes Innovation Award is intended to inspire and catalyze innovation at colleges and universities around the world. The award recognizes high-impact and replicable educational innovations designed to enhance social entrepreneurship in higher education. Such innovations may include effective approaches to curricular development, co-curricular activities, or community and culture building. The award was established four years ago by Ashoka U, an initiative of Ashoka, the world's largest network of social entrepreneurs, and the Cordes Foundation, a champion of bold, innovative solutions to the world's toughest problems.

Mike Weikert, director of the Master of Arts in Social Design at MICA and founder of CDP, will accept the award from Ron Cordes, co-founder of the Cordes Foundation, and Diana Wells, president of Ashoka, in a plenary session on Feb. 21, 2014, at the Ashoka U Exchange before an audience of over 650 participants. The Ashoka U Exchange, hosted at Brown University from Feb. 20-22, 2014, will bring together over 150 colleges and universities representing 40 countries to share best practices and advance social entrepreneurship in education. Weikert will deliver a keynote presentation to share the work and impact of CDP.

CDP is an interdisciplinary studio engaging MICA students and outside partners in projects addressing specific social problems through collaborative, project-based learning. Launched in 2008, CDP brings MICA students from different disciplines together with faculty and outside partners from government, nonprofit and business sectors to collaborate on the development of innovative solutions to complex social problems. Current CDP projects are facilitated by Associate Director Ryan Clifford.

"The recognition from Ashoka U and Cordes is a great honor and a great validation of our work to demonstrate the value of design in addressing complex social problems," says Weikert. "The amazing collaboration with our community partners on real-world social challenges not only inspires our students to recognize the social value of their creative talents but also results in very tangible benefits for the community. CDP partnerships may begin with projects in the classroom but they lead to longer, sustained collaboration and impact."

More than 150 MICA students and faculty have participated in CDP projects from a variety of art and design disciplines. CDP has collaborated with many different organizations addressing a myriad of social issues and problems, including addiction, energy efficiency, food deserts, health care, HIV/AIDS prevention, affordable housing and land use, injury prevention, lead poisoning, teen pregnancy prevention, workforce development, etc. Among CDP's many current and past partners are: Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore City Public Schools, City of Baltimore, Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems (bSAS, Inc.), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Maryland Energy Administration, Real Food Farm, University of Maryland, Neighborhood Design Center, Whole Foods Market, etc. CDP has been featured in GOOD, Fast Company, Design Observer, Print and has received multiple design awards, most recently a Sappi Ideas That Matter grant and a feature video.

MICA's CDP was selected as one of the six winners of the 2014 Ashoka U - Cordes Innovation Award, selected from 220 submissions by a panel of distinguished judges including: Ron Cordes, co-founder, Cordes Foundation; Chris Crane, president and CEO, Edify; Stephen Huddart, president and CEO, J.W. McConnell Foundation; Regina Ridley, publishing director, Stanford Social Innovation Review; Jacqueline Smith, advisor to the president for Social Embeddedness, Arizona State University; and Greg Van Kirk, Ashoka fellow and co-founder, New Development Solutions Group. The five other 2014 awardees alongside MICA's Center for Design Practice include: the Social Innovation Fellowship at Brown University; Work on Purpose, a program of Echoing Green; the Emzingo Group's NexGen Fellowship Program; CityStudio in Vancouver, Canada; and MiddCORE at Middlebury College. Past award winners can be viewed through Ashoka U's online Innovation Award Portal.

Image caption: Real Food Farm mobile farmers market, a CDP project, opens for business.