EXPLORE OUR DIGITAL SOCIAL DESIGN DIRECTORY
LEARN ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND PRACTICES WHO USE DESIGN AS A TOOL FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

Sergio Palleroni Sergio Palleroni Can social impact design be taught? Professor Sergio Palleroni has been a long-standing leader, thinker, practitioner and educator in the field of social impact design, with a career that predates the term ‘public interest design.’ Drawing inspiration from educator/philosophers like Paolo Freire and Ivan Illych, Palleroni began working in the 1980’s in Nicaragua, working for the Sandinista government in the aftermath of the Nicaraguan revolution. From there, his work took him to Mexico, where he worked on reconstruction after the Mexico City earthquake. These experiences became the basis of a revolutionary pedagogy begun in the late 1980s. While the idea of a design/build studio, or a studio abroad program, was not new, the philosophy at the core of Palleroni’s teaching was a watershed in architectural education. In 1995, Palleroni founded the BASIC Initiative, a groundbreaking educational program between Portland State University and the University of Texas at Austin which sought to move students out of the design studio and into communities. It supports a range of projects working with poor and underserved constituencies. For example, housing and community services for migrant farm workers, housing for Native Americans and schools and health clinics in central Mexico. These programs combine appropriate technologies with reinforcing local values to inspire self-initiated development. Palleroni also developed and implemented the U.S.’s first academic certification for those wishing to pursue a career in public interest design. The certification requires coursework and field work addressing diverse issues including: non-profit management, urban poverty, ecology and citizen participation. Certification is open to both graduate students and working professionals interested in entering the field of social design. Along the way, Palleroni has trained and mentored generations of public interest designers who continue to influence the field in their own way. As a leading member of the Design for the Common Good Network, a network of design consortiums from around the globe, Palleroni has worked towards creating spaces for new work in the field of social design to find a growing audience and greater support and engagement through biennial conferences and exhibitions. He has succeeded in being a revolutionary for the past thirty years and shows no signs of stopping. We had an opportunity to speak with Sergio Palleroni about his thirty year career in Social Impact Design on Social Design Insights. Listen to the episodes below. Can social impact design be taught? Urban Think Tank Urban-Think Tank How can urban dwellers participate in the construction of their own built environment? Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) is an interdisciplinary design studio dedicated to high-level research and design at a variety of scales. The studio champions collaborative work with intended users as a tool to develop spaces and projects that reinterpret the potential of unbuilt areas. How can urban dwellers participate in the construction of their own built environment? School children picking up drinking water. Ashok Gadgil Can low cost, simple designs be implemented at scale? For over twenty years, US engineer Dr. Ashok Gadgil’s work has focused on designing low-cost technologies that help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Can low cost, simple designs be implemented at scale? Centre for Vision in the Developing World Centre for Vision in the Developing World Can design overcome an optometrist shortage in the developing world? Lack of access to eye care professionals is a serious problem in the developing world. Dr. Joshua Silver designed inexpensive eyeglasses that can be self-adjusted to the correct prescription. Can design overcome an optometrist shortage in the developing world? University students sketching buildings for a Riwaq competition. Organized by Riwaq, the Tom Kay Award supports Palestinian engineering students with the aim of encouraging them to spend less time in front of computer screens, and to carry their sketchbooks and pencils to explore, appreciate, draw, and document Palestinian architectural heritage. Image Credit: Riwaq Photo Archive RIWAQ Can restoration work in Palestine reinforce cultural identity? Founded in 1991 by Dr. Suad Amiry and a group of fellow architects and intellectuals, RIWAQ is a Ramallah-based non-profit organization that protects and develops architectural heritage in Palestine. Can restoration work in Palestine reinforce cultural identity?

Prize Winners

Learn about our Prize Winners, Grantees, and Design Circle.

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Podcasts

Social Design Insights podcast. Conversations with the leading voices of the social design movement.

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Videos

Short, inspiring films about social design pioneers around the globe.

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Initiatives

Community Design Agency collaborates with communities to use architecture and design to create sustainable change

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CSF’s Mission is to empower the practice of community-driven social design

The Curry Stone Design Foundation supports groups and individuals using design to build healthier, more vital communities. Over time, this support has taken the form of an annual prize, a podcast, grants, and an honorary circle. Currently, resources are being focused on Community Design Agency

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Community Design Agency, an initiative of Curry Stone Design Collaborative, is an architecture and design agency that collaborates with diverse communities in need to create sustainable change.

CDA envisions an inclusive world where every human enjoys access to vibrant, safe and healthy spaces to live, work and play. Its mission is to work alongside communities, drive social and spatial improvements through participatory planning, community-driven design and architecture, advocacy and consultation for those in need.

Learn more about CDA and our process of community driven social design here.

Social Design Insights is a weekly podcast of conversations with leading designers who discuss innovative projects and practices that use design to address pressing social justice issues.

Hosted by Eric Cesal, Produced by Baruch Zeichner.

Listen to the latest episode of Social Design Insights here.

IN MEMORIAM

Jockin Arputham dedicated his life to working with slum dwellers to build representative organizations into powerful partnerships with governments and international agencies for the betterment of urban living.

Mr. Jockin Arputham

We are saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, colleague and incredible humanitarian Mr. Jockin Arputham.

Jockin dedicated his life to working with slum dwellers to build representative organizations into powerful partnerships with governments and international agencies for the betterment of urban living. Arputham was the president of the National Slum Dwellers Federation which he founded in the 70s and of Slum Dwellers International which is now a network of slum and shack dweller organizations and federations from over twenty countries across the world.

The National Slum Dwellers Federation works closely with Mahila Milan, a collective of savings groups formed by homeless women and women living in slums across India, and with SPARC, a Mumbai-based NGO that was awarded the Curry Stone Design Prize for their instrumental work in supporting tens of thousands of the urban poor access housing and sanitation throughout India.

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