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Public Interest Design: Training Program

There is a growing sector in the design professions known as Public Interest Design, as documented in MoMA’s Small Scale, Big Change exhibit and publications like Design Like You Give Damn. The projects in this sector are unlike traditional practice in critical ways and are an area of great potential for the future of the design professions.

Public Interest Design Institutes® provide training and in-depth study focused on how design professionals address critical issues faced by the communities we serve through collaborative processes and fee-based projects. Training in public interest design is a way of enhancing an existing practice by enhancing the skills needed to pro-actively engage in community-based design.

The Public Interest Design Institutes curriculum is grounded in the Social Economic Environmental Design® (SEED) mission, principles, and methodology. SEED goes beyond green design with a “triple bottom line” approach that tracks and documents social, economic, and environmental impact. Exemplary case studies and best practices documented in the Public Interest Design Practice Guidebook, the Harvard Case Study, and the annual SEED Awards will be presented and discussed by leaders in the field.

All successful participants earn certification as a SEED Professional. Practicing professionals will earn 13 AIA, ASLA, or USGBC HSW CEUs/PDHs. Licensure candidates will earn 13 AXP Hours.

Learning objectives will address:

  • · Understanding public interest design and how it is re-shaping professional practice
    · Learning participatory design methods
    · Leveraging partners and assets to address project challenges
    · Maximizing a project’s positive impact on a community
    · Moving beyond LEED to measure positive social, economic, & environmental impact

The Academic Leader of each session is Bryan Bell, Founder of Design Corps, Founder of the Public Interest Design Institute, and a Co-founder of SEED. Bell has supervised the Structures for Inclusion lecture series for 14 years, which presents best practices in community-based design. He has published two collections of essays on the topic and lectured at numerous schools including the Rural Studio with Samuel Mockbee. He has received an AIA National Honor Award in Collaborative Practice. His work has been exhibited in the Venice Biennale and the Cooper Hewitt Museum Triennial. He was a Harvard Loeb Fellow in 2010-11 and a co-recipient of the 2011 AIA Latrobe Prize, which is focused on public interest design.



Public Interest Design Institutes are made possible by funding from the Surdna Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

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