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Global Executive MS Alums Share Human-Centered Design Thinking Strategies at Parsons Paris

June 21, 2018 at 4:05PM
Global Executive MS Alums Share Human-Centered Design Thinking Strategies at Parsons Paris

Allison Silver is a legal designer. If her job title sounds like a mash-up of wildly  different careers, that’s because it is. Silver applies design thinking  to her job as a practicing attorney, creating presentations, teaching  “soft skills” workshops to fellow attorneys, and starting a design  studio focused on applying human-centered approaches to legal challenges.

Silver, who developed her interest in legal design in the Global Executive MS in Strategic Design and Management (GEMS) program at Parsons School of Design, shared her perspective at the recent Nth Degree event Transform the World Through Strategic Design at Parsons Paris, which featured graduates from the inaugural GEMS cohort. The Nth Degree Series is a curated series of events featuring thinkers, visionaries, and creators who redefine the cutting edge. 

Moderated by Melissa Rancourt,  academic director of GEMS, the event was a platform for Silver and her  classmates to share methods for leading transformation through strategic  design while engaging with opportunities and issues connected to the  current social, industrial, and economic landscapes. Speakers discussed a  broad range of topics—workplace innovation, legal practice, sustainable  fashion, climate change, work health balance, culture, and interior  design—and how these phenomena can foster social betterment in  contemporary business settings.

Silver’s talk focused on how design thinking can be applied to the legal field.

“We need to teach lawyers empathy and  iteration and rapid prototyping, which will create a better sense of  current issues and humanize the legal experience,” said Silver. “We need  to promote a freedom to fail, so that legal practitioners can test  solutions in real time, rather than in a vacuum.”

Marina Terteryan,  a GEMS alum, discussed the physical damage caused by working at a desk  and the app she created, The Sitting Duck, to address the issue. The app  encourages ergonomic postures through a chat bot “that messages people  about customized ways of working based on their desk setup, job, and  work style,” she said.

“More than that, The Sitting Duck is a  tool for self-awareness, to help us understand how we work and to allow  us to adopt better habits,” she added. “It uses techniques of  behavioral science to provide information in a meaningful way.”

Like Silver and Terteryan, many GEMS  graduates are addressing social issues – a hallmark of The New School’s  unique design-led approach to education. Recently Parsons alumni Jack  Burns and Ali VanOverbeke launched Genusee,  an eyewear brand that makes glasses from plastic water bottles left  over from the Flint, Michigan, Water crisis, while The New School’s Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative gave students enrolled in the Venture Lab course the chance to sell their ideas and receive constructive feedback  from New York City–based socially engaged entrepreneurs.

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