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Design for Humanity Initiative

Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and Vignelli Center for Design Studies Announce Design for Humanity Initiative

February 1, 2018, New York City – At a time of heightened and prolonged crises, humanitarian actors persistently strive to respond to affected communities with more effective and dignified relief and recovery interventions. Similarly, designers and architects endeavor to contribute their skills for social change and humanitarian action to uplift human rights and dignity.

Whether ensuring more dignified shelters and settlements for displaced persons, designing more inclusive and resilient urban ecosystems or employing art and design as a vehicle for advocacy–the possibilities for design and humanitarian action are endless.

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University is thus partnering with the Vignelli Center for Design Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) to launch a three-year Design for Humanity Initiative.

A Design for Humanity Summit will be held on June 22, 2018 at Fordham University. Presenters and participants will identify current best practices, needs, and gaps in the humanitarian sector as well as generate design strategies and future partnerships.

“By facilitating an exchange between humanitarian responders and multi-talented design professionals, we believe both communities can devise and implement more sustainable, human-centered, participatory and innovative design strategies,” said Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director.

“Industrial designers, graphic designers, interior designers, and architects bring critical design thinking and a participatory problem solving process to humanitarian challenges. We innovate to respond to human needs and alleviate real-world problems,” said R. Roger Remington, Director of RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies.

The Summit will explore how innovative design can reshape humanitarian action for the benefit of people affected by crises by highlighting a range of piloted and pioneered design innovations for humanitarian response as well as facilitating future partnership and project implementation.

“Design professionals and the humanitarian community can play a significant role in supporting humanitarian relief processes through more sustainable, human-centered, and participatory design strategies. Bringing together designers, humanitarian practitioners, private sector, academia and government to look at best practices from the field will allow innovative solutions for emergency and protracted crisis response,” said Alberto Preato, IIHA Humanitarian Design Visiting Research Fellow.

Mr. Preato works as Program Manager for the UN Migration Agency (IOM) in Niger where  he coordinates protection and assistance for vulnerable migrants traversing the Sahel on the Central Mediterranean Route and oversees emergency assistance to internally displaced persons in the Lake Chad Basin.

Humanitarian principles of ethics, community participation, and inclusivity will be core themes that remain central to the Summit and follow-up initiatives.

Whether ensuring more dignified housing and settlements for displaced persons, designing urban spaces more resilient to climate change or employing art and design as a vehicle for advocacy – the possibilities for design and humanitarian collaboration are endless.

Humanitarian and design professionals are welcome to join the Design for Humanity Initiative. Sign up here to stay up to date and participate.

Media Contact
Angela Wells, IIHA Communications Officer
awells14@fordham.edu

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