Every year, Design for America is lucky and delighted to run a workshop at Better World by Design – an annual three-day conference hosted by students at Brown University at Rhode Island School of Design. Whether their background is in education, architecture, social policy, design strategy, or ecology, BWxD attendees come together with a common passion for social impact.

12138340_1143274112364353_3071611629012068417_o
Better World by Design attendees applauding a DFA alumna Annie Wu, keynote speaker, via Better World by Design facebook

This year we conducted a workshop called Design with Compassion, which aimed to help people design for underserved communities through the power of empathy. The workshop was facilitated by Allison, a DFA National Fellow, and the DFA RISD/Brown studio leads Iyad and Polina. We invited representatives from the RISD Queer Student Alliance (QSA) to research and design for the challenges that transgender youth face today.

12139967_1143273595697738_2701738323357366564_o
DFA Workshop: Design with Compassion

After a round of user interviews, workshop participants created empathy maps to visualize what trans youth are experiencing. Afterwards, they asked targeted questions such as “How can we help parents and their transgender children have an open dialogue?” and “How can we educate family and community members about the transgender experience?”

IMG_8741
DFA Workshop participants creating empathy maps

 

Being in Providence was also a great opportunity to visit the DFA RISD|Brown studio and meet with the new studio leaders about their vision for the next year. They had a lot of great ideas, including team leadership training and running design workshops with the studio, that they’re excited to implement!

A number of other DFA students and alumni from the Northeast and Midwest also attended the conference, including DFA Wash U, DFA Case|CIA, DFA Yale, DFA RPI, DFA Northwestern, and DFA NYU. To celebrate DFAers coming together, the alumni network DFA Collaborative hosted a meetup at Sproutel, home of the first DFA project Jerry the Bear. What an interconnected party!

12039059_10204396546106181_6948623551973749153_o
DFA students and alumni having a blast at Sproutel

But it’s not a DFA party without some brainstorming too! DFA Collaborative hosted a brainstorming session over lunch on the Brown Main Green, where students and alumni shared ways to connect and stay in touch. We heard ideas ranging from a database of the network to connecting people with specific interests to cold calling a fellow DFAer that you don’t know, but you can meet! We’re excited to see some of these ideas put into action to strengthen our network!

IMG_8809
DFA Collaborative meetup on the Brown Main Green

 


 

To learn more about Better World by Design, visit their website at http://www.abetterworldbydesign.com/2015/