Career Discovery program emerges with new identity: Design Discovery

Career Discovery, the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s six-week, summer immersion program for the design-curious of all ages and backgrounds, emerges after 46 years with a new identity and name: Design Discovery. The shift is geared toward recognition of the program’s increasingly interdisciplinary intent, as well as the broader application and engagement that the concept and study of design evoke today. Learn more about Design Discovery’s history from the GSD’s 2015 profile of the program.

“Over the years, the program has continued to be an opportunity for participants to learn about architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design, and also to grasp an understanding of design in all its facets,” says GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. “This name change embodies the expanded opportunities for graduates of design and planning programs, and reflects the evolution of our program over the past few years.”

A staple in the GSD’s portfolio of non-degree offerings, Design Discovery attracts an array of participants who may be hungry for a career change, considering graduate school in design, or simply seeking a hands-on learning experience focused on design. Running for six weeks each summer, Design Discovery offers programs in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design, led by GSD faculty and students.

The program is concerned with both a mindset and a toolkit that designers and the design disciplines make use of, and many graduates have gone on to non-design disciplines and practices with a new grasp of so-called “design thinking”: the processes, mental habits, and methods of research and collaboration that can be translated to other fields and areas of study.

While the program traditionally has exposed participants to the rigors of graduate-level design study, and to the rudiments of pursuing a career in design, it has responded in recent years to design’s growing agency and applicability in non-design fields, as well as the broadening definition of “design” in culture and society.

“Career Discovery opened up a whole new world of analyzing and problem-solving processes unlike any I have ever known in my previous studies and work,” says 2015 participant Svafa Gronfeldt of Reykjavik, Iceland, who is executive vice president of the global life-science company Alvogen and a PhD graduate of the London School of Economics. “The total commitment of the instructors to teach and motivate us, project after project, was instrumental in the progress we made.”

As the program enriches participants, it offers value to its faculty, too. As faculty director Jeff Klug said in 2015, “I get to take a step back and revisit the big picture. I remind myself why these are compelling professions, what are our goals. It reminds me of the fantastic virtues of these professions.”

The 2018 cycle of Design Discovery will run from June 18 through July 27, 2018. To learn more about Design Discovery, visit the program’s website, where application information is available. Also visit the GSD’s profiles of the 2015 program and 2016 program.