On Monday, November 30th, an international exchange session took place between a group of second-year design students from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and the University of the Republic of Uruguay (UdelaR). This synchronous virtual session was organized as part of the Design Studies class “How People Work,” which provides an introduction to the practice and principles of human-centered design.
The session, which was carried out in English, was coordinated and facilitated by instructor and PhD Researcher Silvana Juri in collaboration with Denisse Torena from the Architecture, Design and Urbanism school at UdelaR. The goal was to allow students to share the projects in which they have been working during the past semester seeking to prioritize the voices and dialogues between students themselves.
Two groups of nine students from each hemisphere presented a series of projects focused on offering design solutions or interventions around topics as varied as: food insecurity and sovereignty, work and study productivity in home settings (both especially considering the effects of the current pandemic) and career path decisions for college students. Each group had the chance to introduce their different approaches, processes and methods and comment on what their explorations meant and how they related to each context of work.
“Very interesting and rich exchanges were had as students from each school exchanged comments, feedback and questions with their distant peers,” said Juri. “The students based in Pittsburgh stressed that this resulted in an enriching experience while learning from a set of projects and activities developed in close contact with an underprivileged community where a direct social impact can be observed.”
The students discussed that the main difference between the projects from both hemispheres resided in having less direct community impact and leaning towards more “theoretical projects.” The Design students expressed that they would like the chance to engage in this type of community outreach work more often in the future.
“This was really cool to see,” said sophomore Francis Park (BDes ’23). “It’s so amazing to see how (the students from UdelaR) made a real impact on their community.”
The students from Uruguay noticed differences in how their programs are set up and enjoyed learning from the different methods their peers developed and adopted during their research processes. “I haven't seen that method before,” added Sabrina Rios from UdelaR. “I love how you can visualize the answers quickly!”
The session allowed both sides to compare, value and put into perspective the type of design practice and education adopted in each part of the world.
“One important aspect that we noticed was the broader attitudes and approaches adopted during the practice of design, and not so much the technical specificity adopted or the type of proposition or final result proposed,” said Juri. “The group of Uruguayan visual communication students not only designed communicative pieces, but perhaps, more importantly, devised social interactions, spaces for learning and bonding, reflection and overall transformative and empowering experiences.”
“In the experiences that the students mentioned, the process and all the challenges they faced were the most remarkable aspect, more than the design pieces they made,” said Natalia Acosta, an instructor from UdelaR.
Students and instructors from both schools appreciated how fruitful and inspiring the session was and students were vocal about their interest and motivation to develop new collaboration opportunities in the future.
Students participating from FADU-UdelaR:
Sabrina Viscardi, Anthony Acevedo, Ana Lucía Alpuin, Sabrina Ríos, Joaquín Tate, Bruno Echar, Luana de los Santos, Sol Sanabria, Eugenia Curbelo