design + social impact workshop

Design + Social Impact: Strategies for Creative Intervention’ is a workshop that invites creative professionals who are looking to create a social impact to learn design thinking strategies that can help them in their work.  

The workshop will be delivered by Parsons School of Design professors John Bruce and Mark Randall, who will present an exclusive, five-day, intensive workshop to explore the roles that creative professionals can play when executing socially-minded work.


How Can Design Thinking Help?

Many creative professionals are interested in developing self-generated, non-client-based projects that are geared towards creating a positive impact on their community. But while the road to social change and development is paved with good intentions, this does not mean these concepts reach their full potential. For a concept to be sustainable, it needs to be more than a good idea – it needs to be built on a solid strategic foundation.

Makers, disruptors, and innovators in all creative disciplines are encouraged to apply to this intensive workshop that will focus on critical areas for those interested in taking an entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial approach. The workshop will cover areas like: framing the question, creative sessions, activities and ecosystem mapping, identifying leverage points, stakeholders and value proposition, provo/prototyping. and storytelling.

Participants will develop the strategic foundation for a socially-minded, design-driven project, and leave with an understanding of the steps needed to turn their concept into a sustainable, successful reality.

To get the most out of the workshop, participants are required to arrive with an area of interest to build a project upon – real or conceptual. An assignment will be distributed to accepted participants several weeks before the start of the session to prepare everyone in advance.


Who Should Apply?

The workshop is oriented towards all creative disciplines and we encourage the following groups to apply:

  • Creative professionals who wish to expand their career options into the area of social change.
  • Social entrepreneurs interested in the design process.
  • Academics who wish to teach design and social change.


Workshop Dates: October 14 – 18

The workshop will take place over 5 consecutive day (14-18 October). On Saturday, 13 October, all participants will be invited to a dinner with the professors and the workshop organizers to get to know each other before the official start of the workshop on Sunday. The last day of the sessions, Thursday, 18 October, will end with a public reception with invitees from the design community, the social entrepreneurship scene, and representatives from different cultural institutions in Egypt.

Ability to attend all sessions is mandatory for participation in the workshop.


Workshop Schedule*

Saturday 13 October

6:00 pm            Dinner with participants


Sunday October 14

10:00 – 10:45     Introduction and overview

10:45 – 11:45     Participant introductions

11:45 – 12:00     Break

12:00 – 13:00     Ecosystems, causal relationships, leverage points; Wheel of Reasoning tutorial

13:00 – 13:45     Lunch

13:45 – 15:00     Workshop: Wheel of Reasoning

15:00 – 15:15     Break

15:15 – 16:00     Design-led research introduction; Ethnography, participation, emergence, probes, provocations


Monday October 15

10:00 – 11:00     Inquiry and ideation; Converge/Diverge Double-diamond

10:45 – 12:00     Workshop: Designing questions; Facilitating creative sessions

12:00 – 12:15     Break

12:15 – 13:00     People, personas, perspectives, and journey maps

13:00 – 13:45     Lunch

13:45 – 15:00     Workshop: Designing probes and provocations

15:00 – 15:15     Break

15:15 – 16:00     Synthesizing findings; Developing insights and design principals


Tuesday October 16

10:00 – 11:00     Designing value; Mapping impact

10:45 – 12:00     Workshop: Core values; Stakeholder activities mapping

12:00 – 12:15     Break

12:15 – 13:00     Confronting data: What and how to measure

13:00 – 13:45     Lunch

13:45 – 14:15     Designing the design process; Prototyping

14:15 – 16:00     Working session


Wednesday October 17

10:00 – 11:00     Speculative design; Futuring

10:45 – 12:00     Workshop: Backcasting

12:00 – 12:15     Break

12:15 – 13:00     Transition design; Embodied learning and change

13:00 – 13:45     Lunch

13:45 – 14:15     Narrative, refining value, and making the business case

14:15 – 14:45     Preparing your pitch

14:45 – 16:00     Working session


Thursday October 18 (morning session)

10:00 – 11:00     Lighting share

11:00 – 13:00     Working session

13:00 – 14:00     Lunch

14:00 – 15:15     Presentations, Part 1

15:15 – 15:45     Break

15:45 – 17:00     Presentations, Part 2


Thursday October 18 (evening reception)

19:00 – 19:10     Welcome remarks

19:10 – 19:30     Presentation of select projects

19:30 – 21:00     Networking reception


*Schedule is subject to change


About the Instructors

John Bruce

John Bruce is a designer, filmmaker, and educator. He is Assistant Professor of Strategic Design at Parsons, where he leads the studio Design for Living and Dying in the Transdisciplinary Design MFA program.

John is the senior strategist for Forward Mapworks, a strategic consultancy. He also co-founded the Brooklyn-based design and architecture firm Super-Interesting! His clients and projects include: Light Phone, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, Red Hook Initiative, Novo Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

He directed and produced, with Pawel Wojtasik, the documentary film End of Life, as well as many short films and installations. His work has been exhibited internationally. He served as production manager and art director for a number of feature films, and platform producer for several transmedia projects addressing social issues. He earned a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, and an MBA in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot (Presidio). He was a 2015/16 Fellow at the Graduate Institute for Design Ethnography and Social Thought at The New School.


Mark Randall

Mark Randall is principal and creative director of Worldstudio, a strategy and communications firm in New York with a focus on non-profit and civic organizations. In addition, he serves as Associate Director and Assistant Professor of Strategic Design & Management at Parsons School of Design.

The work of Worldstudio is mirrored in its synergistic relationship with Worldstudio Foundation of which Mark is the president. Worldstudio’s current social initiative is Amplify! Leveraging the power of art and design to advance the front lines of social justice. The foundation’s signature initiative – Design Ignites Change – supports architects and designers who want to make a difference in their communities. Ranging from scholarships and grants to mentoring programs and educational opportunities for college students and creative professionals, the initiative uses the poster of creativity to ignite positive social change.

Mark is the co-founder and chair of Impact! Design for Social Change, a series of summer intensives at the School of Visual Arts. He lectures regularly on social design at educational institutions and professional conferences, his work has won leading industry awards and has been featured in books on design and social change. In 2017, Mark received the prestigious AIGA Medal.


How to Apply

The workshop is free and 25 participants will be selected through an application process. Please note that the deadline for application is Saturday, 8 September, 2018.

In addition to filling out the application form, you must submit a resume or CV along with one of the following:

  • Portfolio in PDF format, 5-8 pages
  • Website link to your work
  • Sample or case study of a project you worked on in PDF format
  • A written essay not to exceed 600 words about what motivates you to engage in the area of social change and why you want to participate in this workshop.

For inquiries, please contact us at or visit us on Facebook.

This workshop is brought to you by:

design + social impact workshop






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