Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014.

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Art Center College of Design
Media Design Practices 
Lab+Field MFA
Year 1: Concept Year 0: Dev
The Development Year is an optional third
year that precedes entry into either track.
Lab and Field students are combined.
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Year 2: Thesis
dialectical
bus tour +
charette
shared
studio
thesis
reviews &
symposia
ideas
fair
Field><Lab
confabs
weekly
colloquia
Each line
represents
the path
of a:
Field track
student
Lab track
student
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 2
Lab Projects
Five 4-week projects working with
technology, science, and culture
Field Projects
One 2-term project working on social
issues in a developing world context
Lab Thesis
Structured design-led research
Field Thesis
Structured design-led research
Media Design Practices/Lab+Field curriculum diagram
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 3
The curriculum is designed to support
students from a range of backgrounds.
Two-year students are accomplished
designers while three-year students bring
valuable experience from other domains.
1. Jenny Rodenhouse, Lab 2015, 2-year
Bachelor of Industrial Design, Industrial and
Interaction Design
Syracuse University
2. Jeff Hall, Field 2013, 3-year
Bachelor of Arts, English Literature
Whittier College
3. Betsy Kalven, Field 2013, 3-year
(shown with Oscar, a boda driver, on the left)
Bachelor of Arts, Human Rights
University of Michigan
4. An Mina, Field 2013, 2-year
Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Philosophy
with Chinese Minor
Georgetown University
5. Nancy Kwon, Lab 2014, 3-year
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Film/Video and
Photographic Arts
Pratt Institute
6. Ian Besler, Lab 2014, 3-year
Bachelor of Science, Journalism
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
7. Jeremy Eichenbaum, Lab 2013, 3-year
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Photography
California State University-Long Beach
8. Elizabeth Gin, Field 2013, 2-year
(shown with Mama Zaina, a market owner,
on the left)
Bachelor of Arts, Graphics Technology and
Information Systems
Messiah College
Media Design Practices/Lab+Field students
1 2
3 4
5 6
7 8
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 4
Media Design Practices/Lab+Field faculty
The faculty bring multiple perspectives to a
curriculum founded largely on team-teaching.
They approach education as a creative
practice and critical dialogue.
The curriculum incorporates partnerships
as an opportunity for collaboration and
knowledge exchange. Project partners may
assume a co-faculty role with their MDP
counterparts.
1. Chris Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Unit Co-Lead,
Field partner and co-faculty; Maria de Lamadrid,
Field student; Sean Donahue, design researcher,
Field core faculty
2. Wendy March, Design Devices Group, Intel, Lab
partner and co-faculty; Zoe Padgett, Lab student;
(unknown photographer); Ben Hooker, media artist
and designer, Lab core faculty; Anne Burdick,
media designer, MDP Chair
3. Aaron Fooshee, Lab student; Elise Co, interaction
designer, Principal at Aeolab, Lab and Field
faculty
4. Tim Durfee, architect, Lab core faculty
5. Mimi Zeiger, design curator and critic, editor
and publisher of Loudpaper, Lab faculty; Phil van
Allen, interaction designer, Lab core faculty
6. Rosten Woo, designer, writer, and co-founder of
the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), Lab and Field
faculty; Norman Klein, cultural critic, media
historian, and novelist, Lab faculty
7. Dr. Christina Agapakis, UCLA synthetic biologist,
partner and co-faculty; Yoon Choi, Lab student
8. Dr. Elizabeth Chin, anthropologist, Field core
faculty
1 2
3 4
5 6
7 8
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 5
In the Lab track, students learn to use design
to participate in the development of new ideas
in technology, science, and culture.
Students learn to understand their work in
the context of cultural, technological, and
environmental change.
In order to position themselves as designers
in a range of domains new to design,
students learn to articulate their expertise and
communicate across disciplinary and cultural
boundaries.
To prepare for the independent research of
the Thesis Year, students learn to approach
design as a critical investigation through a
sequence of fve 4-week Lab Projects in the
Concept Year. The curated set of projects
challenges students to fnd a fresh approach
to the crucial issues of the moment. 2013-14
topics included augmented reality, encryption
and privacy, synthetic biology, wearable
technology, and smart cities. Most projects
include an external collaborator or project
partner integrated as co-faculty or as host for
site visits, workshops, screenings, lectures,
or demos.
FROM CONCEPT YEAR TO THESIS — WALTON CHIU’S ESTIMATED
TIME OF ARRIVAL
1&2. Walton Chiu’s thesis includes short films
that unfold within Google Maps to expose the way
algorithms script and describe the (user’s) world.
2-5. The seeds for ETA can be seen in Concept Year
projects: (2) a sensing algorithm that controls
one’s life (3) a bat scientist followed by his
own personal drone; (4) a human sensing rover that
explores nature; (5) an analog artifact from the
digital world that leads to a curious road trip.
Media Design Practices/Lab track overview
1
2 3
4 5
voiceover: “You see, girls, I have run off with one of your husbands.”
Year 1: Concept Year 2: Thesis
Detourism
Ciphertexts
& Cryptoblobs
Bacterial
Cultures
Wearable
Transactions
Sensored
Stories
Lab Projects
Five 4-week projects working with
technology, science and culture
Lab Thesis
Structured design-led research that
builds upon a line of inquiry identifed in
the prior year’s projects
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 6
Media Design Practices/Lab track curriculum
Year 2: Thesis
Lab Thesis 1 & 2. This course
provides a structure of mile-
stones and workshops for
students as they develop their
individual thesis work. Faculty
mentors guide small groups of
students in the initial stages
then midway through the Fall
each student is assigned a lead
advisor who convenes the advi-
sory committee. Student work
may sit at the intersection of
multiple felds—e.g. architecture
+ fashion + physical computing
or biology + interaction + flm.
Each committee member is se-
lected for the distinct disciplin-
ary perspective they bring to
the student work.
Students meet with regularly with
their lead advisor and committee
members individually and as a
group.
Critical Practices 1 & 2. This
course provides a refective space
for situating the thesis work as it
is under development. Students
learn to contextualize their work
within the literature and the feld
through both traditional and
design-research-based schol-
arly activities. Each student is
assigned a writing advisor who
works with them to develop thesis
statements and papers and learn
to approach writing as an integral
part of their practice.
In the Spring term, students learn
about intellectual property, entre-
preneurial strategies, scholarly
practices, and models for design
research and practice as it relates
to their own.
Thesis project: a body of work that makes a
contribution to the feld
Thesis paper: sets the context for the project
Thesis publication: web-based documentation
Thesis exhibition: a physical installation for
public presentation and critique
1 2 3 4 5
Degree Requirements
Year 1: Concept
FALL
2 Lab Core A —
Structures
2 Lab Core B —
Interactions
2 Lab Core C —
People
6 Lab Projects 1
3 Critical
Frameworks 1
1 Colloquium
SPRING
12 Lab Projects 2
3 Critical
Frameworks 2
1 Colloquium
SUMMER
3 X-Term

Year 2: Thesis
FALL
12 Lab Thesis 1
3 Critical Practices 1
1 Colloquium
SPRING
12 Lab Thesis 2
3 Critical Practices 2
66 TOTAL CREDITS

Course Descriptions
Year 1: Concept
Lab Core A — Structures. In
this course students learn about
how our interactions, lives, and
even thinking are structured: from
cities to computation to biology to
language. Students will learn to
approach the designing of struc-
tures as a way to generate the
unexpected rather than to merely
categorize or contain.
Lab Core B — Interactions.
Whether getting things done,
biding time, following serendipity,
or being entertained, users are
readers, viewers, thinkers, and—in
well-designed interactions — ac-
tive participants who build their
own experiences and meaning
spaces. To learn how to design
with this approach, called produc-
tive interaction, students create a
tangible interaction as the means
to explore an information space.
Lab Core C — Interventions.
This course is a hands-on inves-
tigation into how people engage
with the world around them, pow-
ered by a motivation to explore
and to develop new modes of
perception. Using everything from
low-tech electronics to social me-
dia, students will learn to interact
with people and places with the
goal of generating new insights
into each.
Lab Projects 1 & 2 — Inquiries.
Lab Projects are a series of
four-week-long conceptual
projects called “Inquiries” that
are built around a theme emerg-
ing from culture, technology or
science. Inquiries begin with
a phenomenon and ask “what
if”? Each inquiry engages
external collaborators, project
partners, and travel to locations
or extraordinary situations.
The projects that result take a
variety of forms. Students learn
to: approach design as a critical
investigation; to structure their
time and working process; to
document and articulate project
concepts in presentation, ex-
hibition, and web formats; and
most importantly, to work refex-
ively and situate their projects
within multiple domains.
Critical Frameworks 1 & 2 —
Lab. In this course students
engage with ideas-in-the-making,
working directly with the thought
leaders and creative practitioners
who are making them. In the class,
guest instructors “workshop” ideas
from a project that is underway or
has just been completed, through
readings, screenings, talks, and
feld trips. Students learn to orient
themselves in a domain of new
ideas and respond with “writ-
ing” that can take many different
forms from tweets to ontological
schemata to conference papers to
short stories.
Summer X-Term. Over the sum-
mer, the program shifts gears,
hosting research projects led by
visiting researchers and faculty.
Students take a 3-unit lite term
and can apply to be an intern on a
research project, do an off-campus
internship, or take additional
coursework in another domain.
On- and off-campus internships
are carefully selected to expose
students to new models of practice
and tend to be research-oriented.
Off-campus internships include
places such as the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory/NASA, Intel Research
or the United Nations.
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 7
Field track students learn to use design and
technology refexively to engage with people
and impact social issues.
Students learn to understand their work
in relation to the systems and networks—
political, economic, social, and techno-
logical—that support, exploit, or defne
people’s lives.
In order to position themselves as designers
in a range of domains new to design, students
learn to bring their expertise together with
others in a relationship built upon reciprocity
and mutual respect.
To prepare for the independent research of
the Thesis Year, students learn to develop the
depth of engagement that feldwork requires
by spending two terms in their Concept Year
working in a developing world context, using
one of UNICEF’s Innovation Labs as a feld
studio. In the Field Projects course, students
are challenged to identify the issues and
communities with which they wish to engage.
FROM CONCEPT YEAR TO THESIS — JUDY TORETTI’S ENGAGING
THE UNSPOKEN: WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE
1. In her thesis, Judy Toretti examined the issues
that executive women face as they deal with their
male peers. Shown here: a study of the gender
politics of the postures and positions of sitting.
2. During her fieldwork in Uganda, Judy created a
set of spoons whose hidden contents (money, an
ice pick, and a land deed), provided a tangible
conversation tool to uncover the predicament
of middle class women who, in spite of their
education and class, still face domestic violence
and lack of access to money and land.
MDP/Field is run in partnership with Designmatters.
Media Design Practices/Field track overview
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2 3 4
Year 1: Concept Year 2: Thesis
The curriculum includes feldwork, prototyping
and testing during two trips totalling a minimum
of 10 weeks abroad.
Field Projects
One 2-term project working on social
issues in a developing world context
Field Thesis
Structured design-led research
that builds upon prior feldwork
or branches in a new direction.
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 8
Media Design Practices/Field track curriculum
Thesis project: a contribution to design
and social change
Thesis publication: documentation
designed for knowledge-sharing with
specifc communities of practice
Thesis presentation: a public presentation
4 weeks 6 weeks
Degree Requirements
Year 1: Concept
FALL
3 Field Core A —
Theory, Method,
Research
3 Field Core B —
Media, People,
Publics
3 Field Core C —
Technology for
Social Change
3 Field Projects 1
3 Critical
Frameworks 1
1 Colloquium
SPRING
12 Field Projects 2
3 Critical
Frameworks 2
1 Colloquium
SUMMER
3 X-Term

Year 2: Thesis
FALL
12 Field Thesis 1
3 Critical Practices 1
1 Colloquium
SPRING
12 Field Thesis 2
3 Critical Practices 2
66 TOTAL CREDITS

Course Descriptions
Year 1: Concept
Concept Year courses are held in
the Media Design studio and in the
feld. Students and faculty spend
a minimum of 10 weeks working
abroad across two separate trips.
Field Core A — Theory, Method,
Research. What is the role of
the designer in working toward
social change? Exploring the
mutually infected relationships
between theory, method and
design research—as gleaned from
anthropology and the social sci-
ences—students will work toward
developing a research-based,
critically refexive, and socially-
engaged design practice.
Field Core B — Media Design,
People, Publics. Students learn
the unique capacities of design
as a mode of inquiry. The course
will host a critical dialogue about
media design in a cross-cultural
context and how can it be used
to foster relationships with people
and publics. Students will learn
about design’s historical role in
social environments and explore
the design of new frameworks for
social engagement.
Field Core C — Technology for
Social Change. An introduction
to information and communication
systems for the global networked
public sphere. Students leave with
a core competency in program-
ming, network communication, and
community information analysis,
through a mixture of theory, practi-
cal learning and experimentation
with de novo social networks, non-
standard communication systems,
and other forms of culture hacking.
Field Projects 1 & 2 — This
course combines structured
activities with time for individual
exploration and refection in
the studio and the feld. How
does one enter a new situa-
tion and begin to understand
(or interpret) points for design
interventions? How does one
evaluate and work with (or will-
fully ignore) social and cultural
dynamics, politics, and one’s
own position as a designer?
How does one negotiate the
needs and expectations of
project partners, design team
members, and the local commu-
nity? Perhaps most importantly,
how does each student fnd
their own entry point and con-
nect it to their own design and
research interests? Students
will learn to develop a social
network (‘informants,’ potential
users, collaborators, fabrica-
tors, competitors), understand
their own responsibilities to
the project in the near and long
term, both ethical and logistical.
Critical Frameworks 1 & 2 —
Students consider issues from the
project in the context of political/
social theory, case studies from
other felds, issues in develop-
ment, the rhetoric of good, and
cross-cultural design. Students
learn project documentation prac-
tices, how to use writing as a tool
for critical refection, and how to
connect individual experience with
wider issues to develop individual
research agendas.
Summer X-Term. Over the sum-
mer, students take a 3-unit lite
term and can apply to be an intern
on a research project led by facul-
ty or guest researchers, do an off-
campus internship, take additional
coursework in another domain, or
continue their feldwork.
Year 2: Thesis
Lab Thesis 1 & 2. This course
provides a structure of mile-
stones and workshops for
students as they develop their
individual thesis work. Faculty
mentors guide small groups of
students in the initial stages
then midway through the Fall
each student is assigned a lead
advisor who convenes the advi-
sory committee. Student work
may sit at the intersection of
multiple felds—e.g. anthropol-
ogy + architecture + physical
computing or open networks
+ interaction + gender studies.
Each committee member is se-
lected for the distinct disciplin-
ary perspective they bring to
the student work.
Students meet with regularly with
their lead advisor and committee
members individually and as a
group.
Critical Practices 1 & 2. This
course provides a refective space
for situating the thesis work as it
is under development. Students
learn to contextualize their work
within the literature and the feld
through both traditional and
design-research-based schol-
arly activities. Each student is
assigned a writing advisor who
works with them to develop thesis
statements and papers and learn
to approach writing as an integral
part of their practice.
In the Spring term, students learn
about social entrepreneurship, the
world of international develop-
ment, activist practices, scholarly
practices, and models for design
research as it relates to the devel-
opment of their own practice.
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 9
Media Design Practices/Lab+Field contexts+partners
Students in both tracks learn to design with
contextual specifcity. Strategic partnerships
integrated into the curriculum give students
direct access to people and sites and
provide the opportunity for collaboration and
knowledge exchange.
Lab Project contexts range from tech industry
R&D to scientifc research labs to cultural
organizations. Students learn to articulate the
contributions they can make as designers
within the disciplinary cultures of each
domain. They learn to build collaborations
around shared inquiries.
LAB CONTEXTS:
1. The view from Mission Control at NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory
2. The surveillance network in the ceiling of the
Montage Casino in Las Vegas
3. The floor at Intel Research
4. Separating DNA at LA Biohackers
Field students learn to address social issues
in contexts ranging from the board room to
urban slums. The Field Track’s partnership
with UNICEF’s Innovation Labs provides
students with a homebase in an international
setting, however students must learn to
identify their own local collaborators based on
common goals and reciprocity.
FIELD CONTEXTS:
1. In an L.A. recording studio with youth from
Jovenes, Inc., a homeless youth support shelter
2. The entrance to UNICEF Technology for Development
Innovation Lab, Kampala, Uganda
3. Outside United Nations HQ, New York
4. A community market in Englewood, Chicago
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3 4
5 6
7 8
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k

e
x
c
h
a
n
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e
s
dialectical
bus tour +
charette
shared
studio
thesis
reviews &
symposia
ideas
fair
Field><Lab
confabs
weekly
colloquia
Year 1: Concept Year 0: Dev Year 2: Thesis
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 10
Media Design Practices/Lab+Field cross-track overview
Shared Studio. Housed in the
Wind Tunnel, a former super-
sonic jet testing facility, the studio
combines students from each
year level and track. The space is
bookended by a gallery and the
Making Lab—a digital shop and
media studio—at the north and
south ends.
Weekly Colloquia.
The entire community gathers on
a weekly basis for program-wide
knowledge sharing. Design
Dialogues with distinguished
guests and off-site visits are inter-
spersed with departmental pecha
kuchas and alumni updates.

Dialectical Bus Tour + Charette.
For ten years, our annual orienta-
tion event has explored the hidden
infrastructure, glittering surfaces,
and community networks of
Los Angeles. Students from both
tracks work in teams creating
a charette in response to the
experience.
Field >< Lab Confabs. Pairs of
students, one from each track, de-
velop a joint pecha-kucha in which
their projects are juxtaposed. They
must identify points of overlap and
shared interest as well as points
of difference. They conclude with
new questions that have arisen
from the combination of projects.
Ideas Fair. At the end of the
Concept year, each student gets a
table on which to display the work
they have created to date.
Faculty, guest critics, and students
circulate.
Thesis Reviews & Symposia.
Thesis work from each track is
exhibited in the same gallery, but
the activities that surround each
are slightly different. Field students
present their work in a symposium
format while Lab students show
work in a project critique context.
Guest respondents and critics, as
well as students from all year lev-
els and tracks participate in each.
The dialogue between the two tracks is
supported through the physical arrangement
of the space and the rhythm of the program’s
schedule. Events that foster discussion
and debate are distributed throughout
the curriculum, timed to maximize cross-
pollination.
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 11
Activities led by faculty, students, and staff
create synergy between the two tracks
through knowledge-sharing, co-learning,
assumption-challenging, cross-appropriating,
debate-staging, and question-raising.
1. Shared Studio. Looking down on the student studios
in the late afternoon.
2. Field><Lab Confabs. Sangwoo Han from the Lab track
and Tina Zeng from Field contrast and compare
their work from two very different contexts—
accessing urban data in Los Angeles and the re-
appropriation of global media in Kampala, Uganda.
3. Ideas Fair. Lab faculty Dr. Shannon Herbert
discusses student work with Lab student Gene Lee.
4. Shared Studio. MDP Technical Director Casey
Anderson helps Lab student Tim Kim working the
desktop 3-D printer in the shared Making Lab.
5. Weekly Colloquia. Lab student Shawn Jackson
presents during Friday’s weekly colloquium.
6. Dialectical Bus Tour + Charette. Field and Lab
students standing in the bottom of the L.A.
River in the middle of the “confluence”—a site
where water, electrical, automotive, and rail
infrastructure intersect.
7. Thesis Reviews & Symposia. Lab student Kristina
Ortega looks on as guest critic Bridgette Brown
responds to student work in a Field Thesis
symposium.
8. Ideas Fair. Field students are shown here
discussing their work with both Lab and Field
faculty.
Media Design Practices/Lab+Field cross-track activities
1 2
3 4
5 6
7 8
Art Center College of Design. Media Design Practices/Lab+Field 2014–15 Curriculum Overview. March 1, 2014. 12
Media Design Practices/ Field><Lab Confabs
The project pairings shown here were created
by students during one of the “Field><Lab
Confabs.” Each pairing demonstrates how
the co-existence of divergent tracks invites
students to consider their work from multiple
perspectives, leading to a new understanding
through dialogue and exchange.
Field projects challenge the frst world
narratives that tend to dominate design
futures, demanding greater cultural specifcity
of student work in the Lab track. By the
same token, Lab projects challenge the Field
students to consider a 3-5 year perspective
and to connect local issues with global
developments in science, technology, and
industry. Students in both tracks learn to look
beyond their immediate points of reference
and the outcome is work that is both
grounded and innovative.
THE HUMAN LAYER: ABSENCE AND PRESENCE IN
GOOGLE’S WORLD VIEW
1. Sang In Chung (Lab) isolated what she calls “The
Human Layer” — people caught by the 9 Eyes of
Google in Google Street View whose visibility is
challenged by privacy advocates in the U.S.
2. Maria de Lamadrid’s (Field) project stitches an
aerial view of the demolition of a women’s market
in Kampala into Google Maps, bringing political
power and awareness to a group whose presence had
been largely invisible to the Ugandan government
and land owners.
DAILY INTERACTIONS WITH INFRASTRUCTURE
3. Andrew Nagata’s (Lab) interactive installation
enables users to “feel” the invisible water
infrastructure that many Californians take for
granted.
4. Jeff Hall’s (Field) project makes tangible the
way in which the presence of electricity—illegally
tapped off the grid—brings a Ugandan village to
life, economically and socially.
3 4
L F
L F
1 2