Design with Compassion at Better World by Design

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.


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

DFA UO Improving Communication for Children with Autism

We interviewed the DFA Studio at University of Oregon about their project, which focuses on increasing interaction among children with non-verbal autism.  One of their solutions, the Calm Wall, looks at how children with autism can engage in multi-sensory experience through light, touch, and sound, to interact with each other and be better prepared to transition from play time to school time. Read about some of their journey!

DFA UIUC Featured Ideators on OpenIDEO


As a departure from our usual focus on a single Featured Ideator – this month we’re highlighting a motivated group of students. DFA UIUC stands for Design for America studio at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – part of the national Design for America network of interdisciplinary student-led design studios. They are a mix of over 100 designers, engineers, business students, social scientists, architects, both undergraduate and grad students, American and international. They explore social problems in Urbana-Champaign, seeking to make impact, using human-centered design. They were high-flyers on our E-waste Challenge, with their Chargers & Cords Exchange Box & E-cycle Truck ideas featuring in the winners list.

A Small Step Towards Improving Lives for Veterans on Campus

The Dartmouth DFA team started off looking at the local veteran’s hospital, hoping to use the design process to help solve challenges there.  Soon, they began talking to student veterans at Dartmouth to gain a better perspective on veterans’ issues, and discovered a problem that had nothing to do with the hospital.

DFA Project Pipeline!

Well, we just had a whirlwind tour visiting all 8 of our DFA studios! From UCLA to Dartmouth, students are plugging away at tackling the most complex challenges of our time. So what have the teams been up to? 170 students from campuses throughout the country have been hard at work establishing local partnerships and understanding community needs. They’ve started out with broad themes such as health or homelessness and been doing deep dives to understand where design can make an impact.

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