• Publications

    DESIS Lab research projects culminate in the publication of academic papers, reports, and books. Explore the links below to view recent publications by DESIS Lab members and collaborators.

    Amplifying Creative Communities in New York City

    This book (PDF) presents a series of articles that analyze and theorize about the results of the Rockefeller Foundation?funded project Amplifying Creative Communities in New York City. The project explored how New York City, with its cultural and economic vitality, can amplify nonmainstream initiatives, lifestyles, and ideas to transform them into social innovations leading to sustainable ways of living.

    Critiquing Social Innovation: What is it? Does it matter? Cases from India and China

    Associate professor of nonprofit management Nidhi Srinivas submitted a report (PDF) on social innovation in relation to ecology and politics. The report describes findings from research funded by the India China Institute on environmental degradation and local community responses, conducted in January and August 2011 in southwestern Rajasthan and western Yunnan. The report asks three overarching questions: What is typically described as social innovation in contexts of ecological degradation? What meanings has the term "social innovation" taken on historically? What actions have local community groups taken that have strengthened ecosystem responses to crises? More of Srinivas' research is available here.

    Designing Services for Housing

    The publication of the findings contained in this guide (PDF) mark a significant milestone in the DESIS Lab's partnership with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and Public Policy Lab, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit. The guide describes the service environment for New Yorkers seeking HPD services and/or living in neighborhoods with significant HPD agency presence. It outlines current opportunities and future possibilities for improving services and provides technical and strategic information about implementing recommendations either through agencies or in collaboration with other stakeholders. This initiative was made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation.

    Government Innovation Labs

    With the expert advice of Christian Bason (director of MindLab) and Andrea Schneider (Public By Design), Daniela Selloni (Polimi DESIS Lab) and Eduardo Staszowski created a map (PDF) to illustrate and monitor the emergence of Government Innovation Labs around the world. A Government Innovation Lab is a type of Public Innovation Place characterized by a direct connection to the public sector. Government Innovation Labs tackle complex challenges traditional governmental structures seek to address. These labs propose and experiment with ideas for innovative public services and policies and also try to reform existing government operations. (Amy Findeiss provided the illustrations and graphic design for the map.)

    DESIS Thematic Cluster: Public and Collaborative

    Edited by Ezio Manzini and Eduardo Staszowski, this book (PDF) describes the activities of European, Canadian, and U.S. DESIS Labs participating in the Public and Collaborative Thematic Cluster. The book includes 11 articles that critically reflect on the labs? projects and activities from 2012 to 2013. It opens with Christian Bason?s paper ?Discovering Co-production by Design,? in which Bason, director of Denmark?s MindLab, offers a broad view of the way design is entering the public realm and policymaking. His stimulating essay establishes a contemporary context for the work of DESIS Labs.

    Teaching the Next Generation of Transdisciplinary Thinkers and Practitioners of Design-Based Public and Social Innovation

    In this article, Lara Penin, Eduardo Staszowski, and Scott Brown discuss the pedagogical opportunities, limits, and difficulties around the training of future transdisciplinary thinkers and practitioners seeking to address a range of complex social and political issues and willing to operate within the interstitial spaces between government, civil society, and the market, where new social innovations can arise. To do so, they focus on a fall 2013 studio course taught in Parsons' Transdisciplinary Design MFA Program titled The NYC Office of Public Imagination. The challenge was for students to design a hypothetical governmental agency, find a place for it inside the existing structure and parameters of city government, and imagine what that agency would do using design as a catalyst for social innovation.