Social constructs

October 29, 2013
Sust Blog, Alexis Cheney '16  |  The Experience, Academics  |  The Experience, Traditions

What role do designers play in social movements? I dashed from my cross-country meet to hear Lee Davis ’88 give an answer.

Davis majored in studio art and his passion for design has led him around the world and through various careers. He studied alongside design gurus in Switzerland and Japan through a Thomas J. Watson fellowship, worked as a graphic designer for CARE (a humanitarian organization which fights global poverty), co-founded NESsT (a business which stabilizes and grows social enterprises), and traveled to Eastern Europe to conduct projects related to NESsT.

Davis now works as a Fellow at Yale School of Management and as a scholar-in-residence in the Center for Social Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). At MICA, his students design for social causes such as the urban Real Food Farm of Baltimore, which improves residents’ access to healthy food and boosts Baltimore’s local economy.

He flashed us photos of their flashy work: a decorated vegetable truck that brings produce to the people, gorgeous graphic logos, top-notch t-shirts.

Evidently, design brings social causes into view; design sets them ablaze. If I learned anything else from Davis’s presentation, it’s the value of a versatile liberal arts degree to give its holders freedom to enter (and — as Davis has done — combine!) various fields. Before we left, he fed us more explicit design-related wisdom: “Increase the size of the Connecticut College diploma.” The diploma design must, after all, reflect the quality of the degree.



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