Connecting to the City: DFA NYU
Here is how a studio makes tangible impact when all the pieces of the DFA puzzle converge — DFA NYU is a network of students, mentors, local organizations, community members and alumni, and is greater than the sum of its parts. Despite having only been part of the network for three years, the studio contributes 101 members from thirty-five different majors. With help from mentors spanning the spectrum of design — researchers, teachers, innovators, physicians, artists, engineers, and urban planners — DFA NYU has worked on 20 projects addressing everything from STEM programming for kids, to safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ Muslims, to long-term financial sustainability for retiring Baby Boomers.
NYU students are deeply embedded in the DFA network and innately bolster everyone’s growth because of it. NYU members look to Design for America’s leadership training to grow themselves and their studio. Thirty students have attended Leadership Studio or participated in a DFA national project. Members actively share their materials with the network for feedback and as examples for other studios to learn from. In 2018, the studio hosted the fourth DFA Northeast Meet-up, uniting over one-hundred members from eleven DFA studios to trade ideas amongst each other and interact with educators and designers.
Internally, DFA NYU is just as prolific. In 2016, a team began working with the S.S. Columbia, the oldest remaining excursion steamship in the United States. With aims to turn the ship into an interactive educational experience, DFA students are developing hands-on games that promote collaboration and teamwork among elementary and high school students. Successful partnerships like this show other organizations that the studio’s members are skilled, provide value, and are worth a partnership.
At the heart of DFA NYU is Professor Anne-Laure Fayard, who received the NYU Tandon Distinguished Teacher Award in 2017 for using collaborative design-thinking toward social impact. For successfully using the DFA model, DFA NYU as a whole received the 2016 and 2017 NYU President’s Service Award, which recognizes students’ commitment to civic engagement and community. State Senator Jesse Hamilton also recognized the studio in 2017 for its work within Brooklyn and greater New York City area.
As young and successful as DFA NYU is, they continue to challenge their city and themselves to better one another.