Mapping & Visualization Design Syllabus 2017

07 Sep 2017


What is the process of moving from an idea (thinking) to action (making)? Why is it important to map the various components of a system and how do we create new models of engagement? Why is thinking about, mapping and modeling systems useful?

  • Reading:  

The India Report” by Charles and Ray Eames

14 Sep 2017

Principles & Values

What are the principles that underlie various policies and the values that drive a system? We will look at various systems and discuss how value flows and is measured in each node. What are the cultural, social and ecological implications of each system and how do they relate to what is valued at each node?

  • Reading:  
  1. The Declaration of Human Rights
  2. The UN’s Millennium Development Goals

21 Sep 2017

The Capability Approach

Amartya Sen’s and Martha Nussbaum’s work on the Capability Approach have proposed a new way of measuring human development and social welfare. We will look at their work, it’s impact, the creation of the UN’s Human Development Index and how the Capability Approach can be used to form design guidelines and expand the conversation on wellbeing.

  • Reading:  
  1. Selected Chapters from Amartya Sen's "Development as Freedom"
  2. Selected Chapters from Martha Nussaum's "Creating Capabilities"

28 Sep 2017

Monuments as Systems: Ethics, Culture and Representation

Consider the basic element of architecture: the frame, the floor, the windows. Bricks and mortar are absolutely necessary, as all life depends on a minimal amount of preservation.A monument preserves not only the person or object it is representing but an entire system. The monument therefore maps our physical space as well as cultural space, freezing the values and ethics of a social system. When cultures shift and times change, these monuments must be reconsidered as symbols that map our physical space as we redefine our values, ethics and culture.

  • Reading:  
  1. Renaming as Decolonization
  2. J. Marion Sims Statue in Central Park has a Complicated History

05 Oct 2017

Thought Systems Part II: Economics and Policy

What are the various disciplines and systems of thought that are at play when we talk about social innovation? We will look at developments in various disciplines and how they interconnect: Economics, Ethics, Policy Making, Ethnography and Management. What is the relationship of design to technology and the ethics underwriting both practices and why it is important to articulate these as part of a model?

  • Reading:  
  1. Rittel And Weber, Dilemmas In A General Theory Of Planning

12 Oct 2017

Design and Design Thinking

In the past few years the term “Design Thinking” has been used extensively. But what is design thinking and what can designers offer in the realm of social innovation? We will follow some of the debates around design and explore the ideas of empathy, trust, and the role of design in understanding stakeholders. Who are we designing for? When we talk of communities and citizens how can we most effectively engage, empower and develop a dialogue with and between communities and the various dimensions of stakeholders? How do we map the relationships and interactions between various stakeholders, their needs and incentives?

  • Reading
  1. The New Yorker, The Dark Side
  2. Horst W. Rittel, The Reasoning of Designers
  3. Viktor Papanek, Design for the Real World

Mapping and Modeling

What does it mean to map social systems? By observing our environment and using our own experiences we can create more compelling maps and in turn by mapping these observations we can uncover the systems that underwrite them. Using John Snow’s 1854 Soho Cholera outbreak map as an example we will discuss how models and mapping ideas can shift biases and articulate new points of view.

  • Reading
  1. Selected Chapters from Sandra Hempel "The Medical Detective"
  2. Christopher Alexander, Pattern Language


19 Oct 2017

An Introduction to Systems Thinking and Dynamics

Before we continue exploring different systems and their implications we will look at the fundamental principles of system thinking and dynamics and some of the terminology of both: what are first and second order systems? What is a feedback loop? What are some of the “keys” we use to model systems?

  • Reading
  1. Jay Forester, Designing The Future
  2. Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded

26 Oct 2017

One-On-One Reviews

Instead of meeting as a class, the instructors will meet with students 1-on-1 and review their progress at this mid-point in the semester as well as answer individual questions or specific areas of interest the student may have.

02 Nov 2017

Part 1 + 2: Thinking about Systems & Leverage Points

In the sphere of social innovation, how do we account for the components we discussed so far in a system? Using the essay “Places to Intervene in a System” by Donella H. Meadow as a template what interventions in social systems can we identify and create? What other models can we overlay on top of this template?

  • Reading + Viewing
  1. Donella Meadows, Places To Intervene In A System
  2. This video talk of Donella Meadows

9 Nov 2017

16 Nov 2017

Trends, Tools and Materials, Materiality and Embodiment

What is a difference between a trend (data visualizations, 21st century statecraft etc) and a creative application of a tool? Why is understanding the difference between the two significant? How can we explore the materiality of disruptive technologies, design solutions, and represent them into the social? How do we adapt, transform and appropriate new technologies, tools and materials? How do we embody this materiality in communities of practice and what kind of models can we create to do this? 

  • Reading
  1. Selected Chapters from "Facts are Sacred, How to lie with Maps"

30 Nov 2017

Making: Strategies & Process

We all make all the time, and yet at times the process feels opaque and forced. What are some strategies for making? What is the transition between idea and artifact or system? And what about intuition and exploration?

07 Dec 2017

Final Presentations

Starting in week 12 students will be assigned a final project which will culminate in a presentation in the final class.

14 Dec 2017