Q & A

What are “Design Strategies”?

Design Strategies is the repositioning of the design practice in order to confront and address the systemic challenges emerging in a rapidly changing world. The skills of designers are uniquely suited to work at the intersection of many disciplines, and “design strategies” redefines the principles, methods and processes of traditional design in ways better suited to complex issues of global and local importance.

Through this form of design, we are redefining how challenges are approached, using design methodologies to intervene and deliver strategic and resilient proposals. Design strategies are the tools that can help us navigate and influence social, environmental, economic and cultural issues.

What is the purpose of SDS?

The School of Design Strategies was created with the understanding that the role of design is changing, and designers of a new breed will be of vital importance to governments, institutions, nonprofits, enterprises and NGOs in preparing them to adapt and respond to both present-day and future issues.

Housed within Parsons, one of the leading design schools in the world, the School of Design Strategies is committed to training the next generation of designers, change-makers, social entrepreneurs, and leaders. By creating innovative new design methodologies, we are using design to influence new marketplaces and fields.

What are the goals of SDS?

Anticipating this need for new approaches and solutions, faculty and students work side-by-side in prototyping and implementing strategic design solutions for cities, the environment, business innovation, services and systems. The chief goal of SDS is to equip students with the necessary tools, knowledge and approaches to confidently enter into a complex world and be positive agents of change.

What makes the School of Design Strategies unique? As a design school?

With a world-renowned and accomplished faculty from fields as diverse as urban planning, organizational change management, business innovation, architecture, environmental studies, urban planning, fine arts, and product and service design, students are able to engage in a transdisciplinary design education that enables them to use design in versatile and innovative ways.

As part of The New School, undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Design Strategies are permitted to take courses from any department in The New School, allowing them the chance to craft a unique and holistic educational experience.

What kinds of projects will I work on, and what opportunities will be offered to me?

To give a brief glimpse into the exciting and transdisciplinary work of the School of Design Strategies, student projects include studying the urban ecological systems of Medellin, Colombia, eco-tourism in Amazonia Brazil, mapping informal settlements
of Helipolis, interactive fashion that responds to music, brand strategy and marketing, fabric design, social entrepreneurship that empowers local artisans, housing policy in NYC, sustainable business proposals for a new kind of food truck, service design methods for urban resilience, collaborative public space projects and public furniture interventions, to name just a few. Explore and follow this website to see the works of our talented students!

What can I expect to learn?

Different from most other design schools, Parsons students in the School of Design Strategies can be expected to learn how to critically analyze complex situations using design, pioneering methods to prototype solutions and proposals, how to implement for sustainable and ongoing impact, urbanism, non-profit and business management, experimental fashion, organizational strategy and business innovation methods, amongst many others.

Additionally, students will have the opportunity to learn the full Adobe Suite, GIS programs, Rhino 3D, Autocad, SketchUp, NetLogo, SPSS, AGI, and Final Cut Pro. Students will also have access to a workshop that has the full range of tools and hardware, as well as a MakerBot 3D printer.

What kinds of applicants does SDS look for?

Students that are curious, experimental, courageous, collaborative, expressive and are committed to tackling the big questions of our world.

There is no typical student at the School of Design Strategies, and we look for any student that has a particular passion for using design to uncover and explore challenging problems. if you have further questions about a particular program, we encourage you to contact our Program Directors directly.

Is this strictly a visual design school?

Not at all. We pride ourselves on the fact that we provide a collaborative learning environment that enables designers to go beyond the limits of visual and physical design.


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