Parsons The New School for Design, including its School of Design Strategies and DESIS Lab, and the Centre for Social Innovation have announced a new partnership that will create an incubator program for Parsons students and recent alumni launching design-led social innovation projects. Centre for Social Innovation is a Toronto-based organization that has recently opened a 24,000-square-foot space in the Starrett-Lehigh building in New York, which supports changemakers in the NGO, public, business and academic sectors.
The first cycle of the incubator program will officially launch this month, and continue through September 2014. Five projects were selected, which were developed by five teams totaling 15 students and recent alumni of two innovative graduate programs in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons: the MS Design and Urban Ecologies and the MFA Transdisciplinary Design. In addition, the DESIS (Design for Sustainability and Social Innovation) Lab at Parsons will create programming for the Centre that will not only shape the incubator program, but also benefit other changemakers in residency at the Centre.
"The incubator program represents a joint commitment by CSI and Parsons to invest in the next generation of innovators to accelerate their efforts," said Eli Malinsky, the executive director of the Centre for Social Innovation, New York. "We are proud to have Parsons as our first academic partner in New York City. We see this partnership as an opportunity to bridge academic and professional worlds-to provide the type of professional resources and connections that the students will need."
The selected projects include Bike Flocks, an urban, clean energy transportation system focused on biking; Make Your Mark, an urban parks stewardship program for youth that connects STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) to design and social change; Enacting Policy, an educational platform for understanding complex policy issues that incorporates role-playing, storytelling and mapping techniques; Co-Kreate, an innovative and sustainable housing alternative that generates economic development, and supports education and community development; and Citysteading, a community-driven process that seeks to empower marginalized urban populations to have a voice in driving important policy issues such as affordable housing and environmental protection.
"The projects selected for this first cycle of the incubator truly reflects the diverse range of work that takes place at the School of Design Strategies at Parsons, which is home to programs that apply design thinking to problems in the urban realm, the environment, business innovation, and services and systems," said Alison Mears, dean of the School of Design Strategies at Parsons. "By partnering with the Centre, we are able to provide our students with a true means of making their work a reality and create new economies."
“It has been proven that innovation comes from the type of cross-collaborative, knowledge-based exchanges that the Centre for Social Innovation seeks to foster," said Eduardo Staszowski, director of the Parsons DESIS Lab. "We look forward to contributing to this exchange, by leading out programming that builds upon the bottom-up approach to innovation we have developed in our work.”