College of Arts & Media
CAM enters partnership with renowned Danish nonprofit
The College of Arts & Media is the first higher-education institution in the United States to have access to the intellectual educational property of the Danish nonprofit INDEX: Design to Improve Life®. INDEX is dedicated to solving global challenges through design and education and sponsors what is arguably the largest, most important design competition in the world, INDEX: Award.
A memo of understanding signed in September makes CAM INDEX ‘s representative in North America, which will allow the college to access the organization’s Design to Improve Life Education framework of teaching methodology and materials.
Because INDEX espouses that design is a tool that can address societal issues at all levels – from potable water to poverty to working conditions – the agreement means that CAM has taken another step toward fulfilling its aspiration to teach its students to create art that has purpose.
“The faculty of the Digital Design Program are interested in bringing an awareness of the inherent social implications of visual communication to their teaching and practice,” said Laurence Kaptain, CAM dean. “Thus, they realize the potential of designers to be agents of change, which is part of our mission and aligns totally with that of INDEX.”
One of the agreement’s most significant outcomes likely will be its relationship with CAM’s proposed Center for Arts as Systemic Change. Visual arts department Chair Brian DeLevie, the associate professor of digital design behind the idea for the center, hopes to bring INDEX’s Design to Improve Life Challenge under the its umbrella. The Challenge is INDEX’s project-based educational program that has young people choose an issue in their own community and then create design solutions that address it.
“We’re in talks with DPS, CU Succeed and others, including nonprofits that focus on minority and first-generation students, to enact the Challenge,” DeLevie said. He hopes to eventually run the program on a scale as large as INDEX does in Denmark – 9,000 middle and high school students. He added that plans are in the works for the center to house continuing education certificates in INDEX’s educational methodology for teachers and potentially a master’s degree in this form of education as well.
Meanwhile, DeLevie and Assistant Professor of Digital Design Michelle Bauer Carpenter will conduct the Design to Improve Life Challenge during this summer’s LYNX National Arts and Media Camp for high school students.
“We’ll walk [the LYNX participants] through INDEX’s design tool, COMPASS, which structures their approach to designing solutions through four phases: prepare, perceive, prototype and produce,” DeLevie said.
CAM’s relationship with INDEX is not new. Digital design faculty have been going to Denmark annually since 2005, bringing back what they’ve learned to share with their students. For instance, using INDEX design principles that they were taught by Bauer Carpenter, students recently created awareness campaigns about cycling safety, plastic pollution in the oceans and the 2011 Fukushima power plant disaster in Japan. Students have also had the opportunity to serve internships at the nonprofit for years and CAM has brought INDEX faculty to the college to hold workshops.