In April 2017, the Institute of Design hosted Robert Fabricant, co-founder and principal of the Dalberg Design Impact Group, as a Latham Fellow for a three-day workshop exploring connections between design and the Social Impact Sector. The goal of the workshop was to foster a dialogue and begin to create tools for designers entering into work in the Social Impact Sector. As this sector is incredibly broad and diverse, the workshop focused on four especially pertinent areas in which design overlaps: behavioral science, urban planning and design, mediation and conflict resolution, and community-based development.

The three days were made up of multiple activities anchored by a sprint design project with Robert and the students and an event with local leaders at Lost Arts Chicago.

The student workshop had twelve Masters students explore the four chosen topic areas through secondary research and interviews with experts in each area. After this quick immersion, the students used multiple visual mapping techniques to understand the patterns and connections between design and each area. From this, quick prototypes of tools that could be used in field were created. These included a game to play with stakeholders on a development project and a set of reference cards for designers in field on development projects.

The workshop concluded with a keynote speech and panel discussion with Robert and local Chicago experts on design in the Social Impact Sector. The guests included: Tim Swanson, Principal – Cannon Design Chicago, Amanda Geppert, Director, Design Thinking Lab – Ci3, Arjun Chakravarti, Assistant Professor – IIT Stuart School of Business, Sara Cantor Aye, Co-Founder – Greater Good Studio.

Listen to our interview with Robert