Parsons

  • Transdisciplinary Design (MFA)

    Barbara Adams

    Barbara Adams

    Barbara Adams is a social researcher who teaches in the Transdisciplinary Design and Interior Design programs at Parsons School of Design. She serves as Associate Director of Research and Academic Initiatives at the Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab (DESIS).

    “My research focuses on the methods of contemporary artists who take the social itself (people, dialogue, interaction) as their central medium. Using participant observation and semi-structured interviews along with object and document analysis, my dissertation explored the ways in which artists work as social researchers producing knowledge and translating what is learned across diverse and power-differentiated communities. Focusing on work that may have more affinity with advocacy, anthropology, or service design than with art, the project considers the kinds of knowledge and action art can generate.”

    Barbara received her PhD in Sociology from the New School for Social Research (NSSR) where her doctoral research was supported by a fellowship from the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought (GIDEST). From 2017-2019, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Design at the Center for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) at Wesleyan University where she taught in the Science in Society Program, the Center for the Study of Public Life, and the graduate program at the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance. 

    Her current book project is focused on creative and poetic forms of social research and considers how art and design might redirect sociological thinking. She is also working on a manuscript that examines the politics of helping in socially engaged art and design projects. Her publications include the book Design as Future-Making (Bloomsbury Academic) and the essay “Centers of Experience: Bodies and Objects in Today’s Museums” in Experience Design (Bloomsbury Academic). Barbara is co-editor in chief of the journal Design and Culture.

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