Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies

MFA CD Curriculum

MFA Curriculum Chart

2-year, 60 credit program

Year One   Year Two

Year One - Fall Semester

TimeCourseCredits
M | 5:30-8:30Design Ecologies3
T | 5:30-8:30System Thinking3
W | 3:15-5:15Studio: Principles & Practice3
W | 5:30-8:30Elective: Incubate / Accelerate / Launch3
Thr | 5:30-8:30Problem ID, Stakeholder Engagement3

Year One - Spring Semester

TimeCourseCredits
M | 5:30-8:30Cultural Entrepreneurship3
T | 5:30-8:30Professional Practice3
W | 3:15-5:15Studio: Projects3
W | 5:30-8:30Elective: Incubate / Accelerate / Launch3
Thr | 5:30-8:30Seminar: Research | Insights3

The Collaborative Design MFA prepares participants to tackle complex ecological/social/economic issues at multiple scales using a variety of design techniques.

The course sequence builds from identifying key challenges in a multi-scale, multi-systems framework during the first semester to strengthening research, entrepreneurial, and professional skills needed to launch capstone investigations or engagements. The year concludes with a first year review and initial capstone proposal, which may be pursued over the summer.

Studios encourage students to apply critical studies and seminar knowledge to actual design projects, while receiving feedback and critique, both in studio and in seminar. Workshops provide the flexibility to offer specific skill-focused courses with special attention to emerging practices.

The second year begins with further exploration of design through collaboration, while providing expanded studio time for further development of capstone projects. The second semester provides support and resources for the completion of the MFA capstone project and written thesis.

Critique Seminars provide participants with critical feedback on group and individual projects. Seminars while giving them a deeper background in current and prospective complex problems, provide them with specific collaboration and facilitation techniques; review design research methods; and culminate with a capstone project that launches each student into his or her chosen professional practice.

Critical Studies courses enable students to understand and work with complex systems; approach design as an interacting set of actors, objects and techniques; take initiative to make proposed design solutions a reality; and learn professional skills that will maximize effectiveness with colleagues, stakeholders and clients.

Graduate Studios provide hands-on project experience, working with clients, collaborators and partners. Each studio facilitates a pattern of discovery, proposal, and build, where students are presented with – or develop - a design brief, and collaboratively create design solutions. Graduate Studio topics adapt each year to local, regional and global opportunities and concerns, as well as faculty and student interests.

Graduate Workshops build specific skills in a fast-paced one-credit studio intensive. The role of the workshop instructor is to bring domain expertise or a thoughtful plan for experimentation that allows students to acquire a set of skills, techniques or way of working.

Independent Study allows for exploration of topics not incorporated into the curricula of regular classes. Students work with the chair and community partners to craft a project proposal and resources to pursue a particular line of research, design, craft, or entrepreneurial activity.

FIRST YEAR FALL
CS: Design Ecologies (3 cr)


In this course we explore strategies of designing for complexity in Portland, the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific Rim. We discuss iterative, generative and transdisciplinary design processes as they relate to dynamic systems. We review skills such as matrix mapping, creating cooperative networks, adaptive processes and effective client engagement. Participants learn to recognize design opportunities through system indicators in the world around them, and develop their own design epistemology and tool kit for strategic planning. (Mon 5:30 - 8 :30)

CS: Applied Systems Thinking (3 cr)

In this course, we examine social-ecological systems and regimes from a specific perspective: the roles of public and private individuals and organizations as agents of change. Seeking a systemic and critical understanding of ethical bases for social activism, we discuss successes and failures of current social-ecological regimes (“business as usual”) in providing for social wellbeing, as well as the bases for considering the wellbeing of nature more broadly. We examine the composition and relative stability of regimes, and we analyze frameworks for understanding and assessing the effectiveness of social inquiries and interventions aimed at regime transformation. (Tue 5:30 - 8:30)

Studio: Design Principles & Practice I (3 cr)

This modular, team-taught studio reviews several current and emerging design approaches, and each year choses from the following practices to tackle specific assigned design briefs: Design Ethnography, Product Design, Living Systems Design, Conservation Design, Redesign, Participatory Design, Disruptive Design, Institutional Design, Rapid Prototyping. (Wed 3:15 - 5:15)

Elective: Incubate / Accelerate / Launch I (3 cr)

This studio considers design problems generated from community partners, clients, and PNCA graduates. The goal of the studio is to move existing projects and enterprises further along a pathway to full functionality. Projects may range from several weeks in duration to a year or more depending on needs and parameters. This studio is highly interactive with Portland’s creative community. (Wed 5:30 - 8:30)

Seminar: Problem Identification, Stakeholder Engagement, Urban Learning Lab (3 cr)

This seminar introduces participants to local, regional and global environmental - social - economic issues and stakeholders. The seminar explores issues and stakeholders relevant to students’ individual practices, potential projects and portfolios. The seminar meets weekly to critique, in rotation, the work-in-progress of all candidates and studio lab teams. The seminar includes visiting designers, entrepreneurs and scholars, critiques with academic and industry experts, and off-campus trips to regional community stakeholders. During each graduate seminar students work on the development of their capstone project. (Thu 5:30 - 8:30)

FIRST YEAR SPRING

CS: Cultural Entrepreneurship (3 cr)


This course explores the many dimensions of cultural and social entrepreneurship from meaning and ethics to the intricacies of designing a social enterprise. This course gives participants a toolkit - identifying opportunity, organizational structure, collaboration, mobilizing resources, budgeting, scaling, risk and measuring impact - that will allows them to create a livelihood by developing a mission driven enterprise. Cultural entrepreneurship is an emerging branch of social entrepreneurship, and leverages indigenous arts, creative activism and innovations designed to change culture. (Mon 5:30 - 8:30)

CS: Professional Practice (3 cr)

This course helps participants refine skills for professional life. By the end of the course students will have a thoughtful and well-designed online presence that presents the individual and their work to potential collaborators and employers. Participants will have an updated CV and a pdf portfolio. Students will develop a personalized job / grant tracking system and will have successfully completed job and/or grant applications. Students are also given the opportunity to initiate a kickstarter or other online crowd-sourced funding project, and develop an exhibition strategy for presenting their capstone to the public. (Tue 5:30 - 8:30)

Studio: Design Projects (3 cr)

This studio engages first and second year students in two specific projects that emerge from fall seminars.  First year students tackle a wicked problems through the programs annual print and online publication, while second year students create a social enterprise. Each cohort supports the other in its endeavors. (Wed 3:15 - 5:15)

Elective: Incubate / Accelerate / Launch II (3 cr)

A continuation of the fall IAL for spring semester, this studio continues with design problems generated from community partners, clients, and PNCA graduates. The goal of the studio is to move existing projects and enterprises further along a pathway to full functionality. Projects may range from several weeks in duration to a year or more depending on needs and parameters. This studio is highly interactive with Portland’s creative community. (Wed 5:30 - 8:30)

Seminar: Research + Insights (3 cr)

The course introduces participants to various design research methodologies including, but not limited to, qualitative and quantitative research utilizing the following lenses: Anthropologist, Scientist, Designer, Journalist, Marketer and Historian. The seminar explores design methodologies and issues/stakeholders relevant to students’ individual practices, potential projects and proposed capstones. The seminar meets weekly offering a mixture of lecture, field trips, guest speakers, and critique. Participants engage in research resulting in written, visual and oral presentations. (Th 5:30 - 8:30)

SECOND YEAR FALL
Electives: Capstone, Principles, IAL


Second year students chose from a menu of studios, including a mentored capstone studio in which the student focuses on capstone and thesis work, guided by a mentor with domain knowledge and experience in their area of interest. (as scheduled)


Seminar: Collaboration, Facilitation, Participation (3 cr)

This course will explore different models of collaboration, facilitation and participation as they apply to local, regional and global issues and stakeholders. It will also explore these models as they apply to students’ individual practices, potential projects and portfolios. The seminar meets weekly to critique, in rotation, the work-in-progress of all candidates and studio lab teams. The seminar includes visiting designers, and scholars, critiques with academic and industry experts, and off-campus trips to regional community stakeholders. (Thur 5:30 - 8:30)

SECOND YEAR SPRING
Studio: Design Projects (3 cr)


This studio engages first and second year students in two specific projects that emerge from fall seminars.  First year students tackle a wicked problem through the Collaborative Design program’s annual print and online publication, while second year students create a social enterprise. Each cohort supports the other in its endeavors. (Wed 3:15 - 5:15)

Seminar: Capstone Project (3 cr)

Capstone seminar helps students produce a successful final project by providing structure and guidance during the completion of the capstone. This course provides students with an opportunity to present, refine and receive feedback on their capstone project. Regular presentations and critiques of capstone projects will be supplemented with small workshops, lectures and site visits throughout the semester. (Thur 5:30 - 8:30)

Electives: Capstone, Studio, IAL

Second year students chose from a menu of studios, including a mentored capstone studio in which the individual student focuses on capstone and thesis work, guided by a mentor with domain knowledge and experience in their area of interest. (as scheduled)

Summer Intensive 2016
Living Systems Design: Food and Ag Innovation Workshop


August 22 - 25

Oregon’s Willamette River Valley contains some of the most productive agricultural land in the world, with rich, deep soils and plentiful rainfall. Our food and agricultural systems are changing, locally, regionally and globally. This workshop will explore historical, current and prospective future patterns of agriculture change, and look for innovative approaches to creating a more just, sustainable and profitable agriculture system.  We will gather local food/ag producers, distributors, retailers, consumers and policy makers to explore the region’s food / ag future, focusing on selected agricultural sectors.