MICA Social Design


The Center for Social Design utilizes a human-centered and collaborative process to understand and define social problems, identify opportunities and generate ideas, and make tools that support positive change. Our goal is to shift relationships between people and people, and people and institutions. Our process includes multiple interwoven phases:


Organize existing scientific data and research associated with the problem. Facilitate discussions to better understand key data and research and to appropriately scope the engagement.

Understand the culture and context of the problem by understanding the culture and context of the people involved. Talk to, observe, and learn from stakeholders to locate needs and assets to support.

Compile observations and research findings and look for common themes and insights. Embrace unexpected insight, ideas and inspiration. Find appropriate opportunities for intervention.

Generate as many ideas as possible and defer judgment (no bad ideas). Be visual with idea generation
and share openly. Draw concepts, not outcomes. Document the process and routinely combine and refine ideas.

Make tangible representations of ideas and give them form. Prototype with people to better test
assumptions, lower risk, align partners and stakeholders, and reveal potential problems early.

Test, iterate and develop prototypes in context. Document and collect feedback to inform strategies and interventions that are more likely to be adopted and align with target outcomes.

Practice Based Studios

Practice-based Studios bring students from a variety of disciplines together with outside partners from government, nonprofit and business sectors to identify opportunities, generate ideas, and make tools for positive social change.

To date, we’ve brought together more than 200 students across 12 disciplines at MICA to collaborate with outside partners on more than 50 projects dealing with issues from affordable housing to HIV/AIDS prevention to disaster preparedness. Learn More

MA in Social Design (MASD)

MASD is an intensive, 1-year graduate program grounded in a philosophy of practice-based learning combining theory and praxis, both action and reflection.

The first degree-bearing program of its kind, our curriculum introduces students to a broad theoretical framework for social design, exposes them to a variety of methods and models for social impact, and prepares them with a core set of skills necessary to pursue professional opportunities in the emerging practice of social design. Learn More

Post-Graduate Opportunities

The Center for Social Design has developed a number of post-graduate opportunities providing select MA in Social Design (MASD) graduates with a one-year, paid, Associate position to continue to build their professional practice. Associates are embedded into funded projects with outside partners to put the human-centered design process into practice in professional contexts, serve as mentors to current MASD students, and engage in other initiatives of the Center for Social Design.