MDES Open Project is an 8-unit, project-based, advanced design research collaboration consisting of individual contributions to a shared objective, and peer review of this work. The class is required of all students in the Master of Design Studies program in the fourth semester of study and is available only to students in the MDes Program. Students choose one from seven sections of the class offered each spring by GSD faculty and visitors, representing design and allied disciplines. All sections are open to all MDes Domains. Enrollment occurs via lottery.
The instructor of each section of Open Project frames the particular area of knowledge, delivers content on the discourse and methods of the contemporary topics comprised by that area, curates a research platform, advises students on forming individual and group research contributions, and leads the collaborative presentations and reviews. The goal of these design research collaborative courses is for students to research, analyze, and develop provocations and hypotheses around a shared area of inquiry proposed by the instructor. These courses, which reflect the innovative methods of practice both inside and outside the academy, rely on group work, peer review, and the collaboration of each individual student.
Under the guidance of the instructor, students organize their own workflows, work individually and in small groups, contribute to the project briefs, and negotiate their own deliverables. Innovation in research methods, representation, and project presentation is encouraged. After the group preparatory research phase, individuals, pairs, interdisciplinary teams, or entire class groups will design projects. Taken together, these designs form a catalogue of responses to the overall topic. Individual work is necessary and expected; group collaboration, peer review, and individual contributions are brought together. Regular group meetings serve as platforms for updates and the sharing of progress and allow for peer review and feedback. Presentations and reviews will be scheduled to facilitate feedback by instructors, stakeholders, GSD faculty, guests, and critics.
“Every activity performed in public can attain an excellence never matched in privacy; for excellence, by definition, the presence of others is always required, and this presence needs the formality of the public, constituted by one’s own peers.”
–Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (1958)