The Master of Arts in Social Design (MASD) is a 30-credit program spanning two semesters across one academic year. MASD integrates intensive coursework with extensive studio and field experience. Most studio/fieldwork is conducted in the Baltimore area, but is not limited to the city and region. Students complete 15 credits in each of the two semesters (3 seminar, 6 studio/field, 6 elective).
Social Design Seminar I (3 credit hours) studies, discusses, and debates the designer's role and responsibility in society, specifically the belief that social change can happen through design. This course, required for all Social Design (MA) students, is the program’s core discourse and meets each Monday from 9 am to 3 pm. It takes the form of lessons, discussions, readings, workshops, presentations, and critiques. The course will provide students with tools, skills, and the overall awareness to address various aspects of social design and innovation. It will also prepare them to reflect on their process as they focus on the importance of research, problem identification, audience understanding, and idea development.
Social Design Studio I (6 credit hours) immerses students into applied projects focused on relationship building, research, and outreach as well as exposure to and understanding of partner organizations and challenges facing the community and society in general. This hands-on course, required for all Social Design (MA) students, meets each Thursday from 9 am to 3 pm and provides students with practical, collaborative, project-based opportunities and experiences outside the institution.
Elective Courses (6 credit hours) in either studio or liberal arts allow students to explore additional subject matter and content that will contribute to their work in the Social Design (MA). Students can choose courses from dozens of graduate or undergraduate courses offered through MICA. Areas of interest may include courses in graphic design, environmental design, interaction design, studio, theory, history, anthropology, or pubic health.
To learn more specifically about graduate liberal arts courses, visit www.mica.edu/Programs_of_Study/MA_Degree_Programs/Liberal_Arts/Course_List.html
Fall semester focuses on Inspiration and Immersion, with an emphasis on developing a common language around research, best practices, methodology, and project-based learning. Students examine the role of design in community building and social innovation as well as the role of the individual as an effective listener, learner, partner, and collaborator. They develop relationships with community members, other disciplines, and outside institutions while connecting social issues to personal interests and objectives. By semester’s end, students will develop proficiency in new tools and skillsets (both practical and theoretical) and identify an action plan for thesis work around a specific area of interest. Group lessons, discussions, readings, workshops, and critiques are balanced with applied projects, individual meetings, and visiting scholars. The objective is to develop an understanding of both the existing space of social design and the value of design in social innovation.
Spring semester focuses on Innovation and Implementation, with an emphasis on applying newly acquired knowledge and skillsets (both practical and theoretical) towards a specific area of interest. Students identify and create a personal approach towards a thesis topic, engage in project/thesis work around a specific set of challenges, and examine the role of the individual as an effective practitioner, leader, and collaborator. They develop relationships with community members, other disciplines, and outside institutions as a way to inform individual thesis process and development. By semester’s end, students will present a well researched, documented, and tested thesis intervention. Group lessons, discussions, readings, workshops, and critiques are balanced with thesis work, individual meetings, and visiting scholars. The objective is to gain the practical skills, knowledge, and experience to facilitate project implement beyond the program and create new contexts and opportunities within the existing space of social design and innovation.
Project Review and Thesis is a requirement for all graduating MASD students. The MASD program will contribute substantial new research as well as tangible case studies and project outcomes related to social design. Students will engage with the cultural, social, political and economic factors that will inform their design work in the community and through critical reflection on these experiences, develop their own approach to projects and problem solving. They will engage in immersive research, develop innovative strategies, and help test and implement appropriate communication and intervention plans and programs.
Students will document their own work in the form of: 1) research, personal narrative and/or testimonials, as well as 2) documentation of process including objectives, key messages, essence and project outcomes. Results will be used not only as case studies to document the process, but as data and research to help analyze and assess the effectiveness of the ideas and solutions as well as inform future MASD students, current and future partner organizations, and most significantly, community and society in general.