DES-659-01: Special Topics: Emerging Practices

General info

Wednesday 3–5:50pm
Steuben Hall, Room 408
3.0 credits

Course Coordinator or Chairperson (where applicable): Santiago, Piedrafita, Chairperson
Adjunct Associate Professor Katya Moorman
Office Location:
Pratt Brooklyn, Design Center, Steuben Hall, fourth floor, office 404
Email address

 Special Instructions for Out-of-Class Consultations:
“For unique out-of-class consultations, please send me a brief e-mail using your Pratt e-mail address with: (1) a clear descriptive subject line; (2) a courteous salutation and sign-off with your full legal name and Pratt ID; (3) a to-the-point body text description of your reasons/goals for the exchange and/or meeting (i.e. academic advice, private personal matter, etc.); and lastly, (4) letting me know of your availability (common courtesy requires that you provide for a couple of options; faculty of record to reply and determine next steps within 48 hours).”

class description

Multiplatform Design addresses the design of communications, digital content, and digital product development that describe the landscape of new media. Participatory culture, fan communities, and digital activism bring about issues of governance in media, and the cultural implication of strategic content decisions for privacy, censorship, code of conduct, community formation, and related issues. Students will look at "wicked problems" and how our increased reliance on digital platforms has altered the landscape in political, social and economic structures. There will be an emphasis on the translation of political and social movements via digital interfaces and the consequences. i.e. privacy, the rise of totalitarianism, the #metoo movement etc. Students will explore the potential for upending social fabrics in their chosen area of interest in this class with a focus on participatory practice. We will look at how different groups are manipulating emerging media to radicalize social and political spaces.

Required Reading

New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms
Rise & Resist by Clare Press

Other Readings

Design as an Attitude by Alice Rawthorne
Article: Beyond Hashtags

Learning from Lombardi



There is one short assignment and two larger projects in this class

ASSIGNMENT -New Power Compass
There are four quadrants on the New Power Compass representing the possible combinations of models and values. Working in pairs’ research companies and bring in one example for each quadrant. (four in total)

Be prepared to discuss:

  • How their values support your categorization

  • Is their categorization different than their optic (i.e. Apple)

Project 1 -analysis of a 20th Century Social Movement

Group Research Project in Two Parts
As we have seen, even before social media and the internet, people have been using modes of communication to create change to the status quo. Demonstrations, visual propaganda, sit-ins and even music have been used as a way to communicate and connect with the masses.  To go forward we need to understand the past. What was successful and what was not? What methodologies were employed?

In groups you will research a major social movement from the 20th Century to today in the U.S. The purpose is to see how the movement grew and what it’s connections are to other things going on both socially and politically.

Part One Deliverable -pre 1995
A large-scale visualizations that shows:

  • the major players and how they interconnect

  • social and political issues that intersect with the issue

  • the methodologies used and the results (both intended and unintended)

Part Two - post 1995
How has the internet and social media changed the landscape of the movement? Itemize how the different digital platforms have worked for and against the movement?
Propose a “communication” for this movement. Where would your idea fit on the Power Quadrant? How is it participatory? You will actually create and execute it over the course of the semester

Project 2

Personal Project
Using what you’ve learned about power, resistance and the challenges and opportunities inherent in digital platforms you will develop a


weekly schedule

WEEK 01    01.23   Intro, review syllabus, expectations
Lecture: The New Power Compass

WEEK 02    01.30   Bring in to share examples from each quadrant of The New Power   Compass.
Lecture: a brief history of social + political activism

WEEK 03    02.06   Project 1 –historical timeline  

WEEK 04    02.13   Critique + review, Research Project current groups and their campaigns and the results

WEEK 05    02.20   Field Trip

WEEK 06    02.27   Critique + review, Research Project assessment –ideas of how they could do better and a jumping off thing

WEEK 07    03.06   Research Project Due – including their own contribution


WEEK 09    03.20   Present your final project idea

WEEK 10    03.27   Critique + review Analog 1

WEEK 11    04.03   Critique + review Analog 2 and present Digital idea(s)

WEEK 12    04.10   Critique + review

WEEK 13    04.17   Critique + review

WEEK 14    04.24   Critique + review

WEEK 15    05.01 Final In-Class Critiques – Project Due