The complexity of the grand challenges surrounding health, security, mobility, sustainability and democracy demands a long-term shared research effort that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Design as an ‘interdisciplinary and integrative discipline’–with its capacity to map the complex dynamics of an issue, foresee its evolution, and shape tangible and intangible interfaces, experiences, services and systems–can empower the network between and across disciplines. Design also facilitates the cross-disciplinary discourse itself through innovative communication methods, and as a ‘third discipline’ mediates across humanics.
The Center for Design opens up a new space for these interdisciplinary exchanges; it is where the design research agenda is collectively shaped and innovative solutions are collaboratively conceived and developed through joint research initiatives. Building solid ground for the bridges that CAMD faculty members have already established internally and promoting new collaborations with other areas both within and beyond Northeastern University, the Center for Design gathers the critical mass needed to leverage existing research initiatives, providing them a fertile environment to grow and systematically sustain them.
The Center for Design has a composite nature:
- It is a place where faculties and students – both from within CAMD and from other colleges – can convene around design research for human and societal advancement. A direct observation of collaborative practices will keep design research continuously under scrutiny (reflection in action) in light of the opportunities and the challenges brought by technological developments. This will be a centrally located, vibrant space close to creativity-led teaching, learning and research facilities – such as the maker spaces, design labs and studios in Ryder, Ruggles and the Library – supported by core and affiliated faculty, research fellows and staff.
- It is a platform and a center of gravity for all design faculties that are actively committed to interdisciplinary research; it aims at fostering existing and new initiatives and seeks to amplify their value by sharing knowledge and integrating research practices through a range of activities such as conferences, colloquia, workshops, exhibitions, within and beyond Northeastern boundaries.
- It is a hub both for internal and external actors across industry, institutions and agencies that want to challenge their research practices and participate in the understanding of the very nature of design as an integrative and entrepreneurial discipline. Actors in the Boston area, as well as nationally and internationally, can benefit from the development of shared design tools and methods and by taking part in joint research projects.
The Center for Design also builds on design research to expand the current capacity of applied-design initiatives such as the student-led design studio Scout, extending the breadth and depth of design practice beyond a short-term perspective. Critically, it provides an opportunity for students to broaden the scope of their design activities within a research-intensive environment.
The value in joining the CfD, in brief, is summarized in the ability to:
- Exchange knowledge and practices about interdisciplinary design research
- Shape common research methods and tools
- Share (human) resources and (technical) competencies
- Strengthen a unified disciplinary ground
- Build team-based approaches and initiatives aimed at large scale, long-term funding mechanisms