The rigor and relevance of art and design research have never been greater. The need for interdisciplinary, team-based approaches to solving complex problems is rising. Designers who are skilled at collaborative research are in increasing demand, and there is a growing recognition of the competitive advantage offered by creative practice and design thinking in the new economy.
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
All of Parsons' research activities are intended for application beyond the classroom. A wide range of curriculum-related exhibitions, public programs, and publications bring students, scholars, and national and international audiences together to discuss work being conducted at Parsons and its relevance to the issues of the day. Many of these activities are coordinated through the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, whose mission is to generate dialogue on the role of art and design in responding to contemporary sociocultural conditions.
While dedicated centers carry out research in specific areas, project-based research emphasizes tangible outcomes. Parsons collaborates with community, industry, educational, and government partners on these projects. Activities range from systematic theoretical inquiries emphasizing participatory design approaches to practice-based projects in which artists and designers investigate creative possibilities within a rigorous methodological framework.
Parsons places research at the center of the learning experience. At the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping, participants can be found debating the merits of various electronic medical records systems or refining a data visualization tool for members of Congress. At the DESIS Lab, researchers propose plans for new community gardens, co-housing, and other sustainability initiatives for New York City neighborhoods. PETLab designers create games that promote social entrepreneurship among young people around the world, while the Center for Transformative Media bridges design, technology, the arts, and the social sciences to explore the potential of emerging technologies to transform everyday practices.
Faculty and students in Parsons’ expanding group of graduate programs work with colleagues from every division of the university, including those in anthropology, liberal arts, sociology, management, and urban policy programs. These collaborations prepare students for real-world teamwork and are increasingly being recognized as an effective way to respond to current social, political, and economic conditions.