Usa, Savannah, DESIS Lab SCAD

For Admission

Starts: 19 May, 2016
Duration :
Instructors: Usa, Savannah, DESIS Lab SCAD
Phone :
Email :



Country: GA, USA

Coordinator and Operational Manager :: Scott Boylston, Program Coordinator, Design for Sustainability

Contact :: SCAD, Gulfstream Center for Design, PO Box 3146, Savannah Georgia 31402 USA

Phone :: 011 1 912 525 5977 // Fax :: 011 1 912 525 5994 //

Hosting Institution :: Savannah College of Art and Design

Website :: //


As a campus that is interwoven into the fabric of its host city, the Savannah College of Art and Design has long worked directly with the diverse communities in Savannah. With over 70 buildings throughout Savannah—only a few of which were not adaptive re-use projects—SCAD faculty, students and staff interact directly with residents in almost every single neighborhood throughout the city.  Over the course of the last decade, faculty have coordinated an increasingly cohesive set of initiatives intended to consolidate efforts into a loosely defined whole that gives broader meaning to each individual initiative. Of primary significance was the creation of the Design for Sustainability program in 2009, which offers an undergraduate minor and a Masters of Arts degree. The program focuses on technical, perceptual and social innovation, and the social innovation sector is comprised of ‘dynamic systems initiatives’ that directly engage an ongoing series of classes to the nonlinear realm of multi-stakeholder, long-term efforts to address social matters. These efforts seek to uncover, accentuate, and amplify the commonly held values of municipal, non-profit, for-profit and community-centered organizations, with an eye toward rippling positive impacts beyond the direct focus of each consecutive project.


  • Empower citizens in low-income neighborhoods throughout Savannah through self-realization, at the individual and community levels.
  •  Consolidate, promote, and amplify sustainable lifestyle and business-oriented actors in the community.
  • Create and perpetuate meaningful relationships between SCAD students and the local community.
  • Consolidate past community development efforts into an actionable library of information, including partnerships, objectives, lessons learned, unintended outcomes, etc.

Primary research area

  • Food justice, urban design, social innovation, innovative material re-use, participatory design, social entrepreneurship,
  • green collar economy, youth empowerment, poverty reduction.

List of projects and research

  • Collective actions in urban schools

DATE: 2013


In a partnership with frog design(, SCAD Design for Sustainability students piloted the highly participatory Collective Action Toolkit ( in three urban high schools in Savannah, with each SCAD team facilitating the co-designing of projects envision by the student groups, and realized through their efforts.

  •  ACCELERATE SAVANNAH: Building the Capacity For an Inclusive, Green Economy

DATE: 2013 – Present


Accelerate Savannah’s intent is to help create, retain and grow sustainability-focused jobs in the region. Primary objectives of this effort include creating an inclusive economy that empowers the chronically underemployed, and permanently retaining some of the creative energy that passes through local colleges and universities. SCAD classes have been developing frameworks and strategies for this initiative since its origins. Accelerate’s vision has been greatly influenced by the Living Cities’ Integration Initiative, and the Evergreen Co-Op model. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s work in codifying a circular economy has also been influential. A short video of the circular economy can be found here.

  • COMMUNITY ACTION for a RENEWED ENVIRONMENT (Level 2): A Strategic Framework to Engage Community Stakeholders in Environmental Justice and Food Production

DATE: 2007 – 2012

In conjunction with and EPA C.A.R.E. Level 2 grant for an Environmental Justice organization, this project explored the complex landscape of competing motivations between corporate partners, municipal agencies, non-profit organizations, and the citizens of two communities in Savannah, and devised a comprehensive strategic framework for all partners to collaborate on to develop food production capabilities for community gardens. Deliverables: presentations to Regional EPA Directors, roadmap and toolkit for developing profitable community farming endeavors.


DATE: 2011 – Present

An ongoing, multi-facted participatory design collaboration focused on empowering citizens in low-income neighborhoods surrounding Waters Avenue, an embattled corridor in Savannah. The project has incorporated almost 24 SCAD classes over the course of 3 years that have been engaged in numerous contextual research and co-design activities. The Design Ethos Do-ference was an event in 2012 that marked a point along the continuum of community engagement that invited renowned social designers to work directly with community members, community leaders, city planners, and college students from around the country. Deliverables ranged from the creation, use and dissemination of group facilitation tools, public art processes and projects, logos, and websites, to name a few.

  • RECHARGE TYBEE: Resilience and Independence for Coastal Barrier Islands through

Community-driven Renewable Energy


DATE: 2011 – present

A grass roots media campaign to develop support for renewable energy support and strategies on Tybee Island. Deliverables: website, video shorts on the value of renewable energy, and podcasts.

  • SEED TILL FORK: Healthy Local Food Systems and Local Health

DATE: 2013 – Present


The project examines relationships between restaurants and farms. It is an online marketplace that connects chefs and small farms with added educational tools to engage all parties active within the system. The system enhances education about local and sustainable food supplies, creates a sense of investment in these supplies and in sources from all actors involved and stimulates the local food. Deliverables: An actionable framework, tools and resources designed to educate and aid stakeholders in local food systems.

  •  EMERGENT STRUCTURES: Community wealth through the transformation of construction waste

DATE: 2009 – Present


A Savannah-based non-profit organization whose mission is to transform the nations’ construction and demolition debris into local wealth has co-design community innovations with numerous SCAD classes and students. Deliverables include community workshops, training sessions with at-risk youth, public art, furniture and jewelry, floors in redevelopment projects, and the building blocks for numerous community projects like public school pergolas, educational green houses, and vocational greenhouses.

Main Partners

Accelerate Savannah, Savannah- Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission, City of Savannah Government Agencies, (Housing Department, Community Development, Assistant City manager’s Office, etc.), Savannah- Chatham County Public School System, Chatham County Government, Chatham County Environmental Forum, Healthy Savannah, Harambee House (environmental justice non-profit organization), Emergent Structures (non-profit organization)


The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods by J. McKnight + P. Block

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in history is Restoring Justice, and Beauty in the World, by P.Hawken

Cultivating Communities of Practice by E. Wenger, R. McDermott, W. Snyder

 The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs

 Design Activism: Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World by A. Fuad-Luke

 Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements by B. Moyer

The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs

 The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization, by P. Senge

 The Hidden Connections; A Science for Sustainable Living by Frijtof Capra

Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart by Bonnie Nardi + Vicki O’Day

The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World, by P Senge, B. Smith, N. Kruschwitz, j.Laur, S. Schley

 New Directions in Action Research by Ortun Zuber-Skeritt (ed)

 Ripples Along the Zambezi: Entrepreneurship and the Rebirth of Local Economies by E. Sirolli

 Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher

 Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach to Solving Solving our Most Complex Challenges by Z. Hassan

 The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprise Are Teaming up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems, by W. Eggers + P.Macmillan

 Sustainist Design Guide: How Sharing, Localism, Connectedness and Proportionality Are Creating a New A New Agenda for Social Design by M. Schwarz + D. Krabbendam

Systems Thinking: A Primer by Donella Meadows

The Systems Thinking Playbook by Linda Booth Sweeney + Dennis Meadows

This is Service Design by Marc Stickdorn + Jakob Schneider

 Wicked Problems Worth Solving by Jon Kolko