IA Launches the Commission on Publicly Engaged Design

By Imagining America | September 24, 2014

susan.kravitz.2Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life announces a new initiative, the Commission on Publicly Engaged Design (CoPED). The commission is co-chaired by James Fathers, Professor and Iris Magidson Endowed Chair of Design at Syracuse University, and Marc Norman, the 2014–15 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The purpose of CoPED is to ascertain the leading edges of publicly engaged design, and develop an agenda regarding what IA can do to leverage our 100 plus institution member consortium to maximize breakthroughs and innovations, but to also meet continuing challenges and barriers.

Scholars and artists within IA have long been engaged in exploring the power of publicly engaged design for knowledge creation and institutional transformation. IA Faculty co-directors Tim Eatman and Scott Peters believe that it is now time for IA to consider the state of the field in more strategic ways. Working across disciplines and campuses, the commission will identify, engage, and convene design leaders in an ongoing exploration of the ways in which IA can facilitate and support publicly engaged design.

The planning team will officially launch the CoPED at the 2014 Imagining America national conference in Atlanta, Georgia on October 11. In a roundtable session, design leaders throughout our network will review the state of public interest in design and consider ways IA can advance such work at member campuses across the country.

In Spring 2015, the planning team will host a CoPED Summit at Cornell University. Ultimately, this initiative hopes to gather together the potent synergy around publicly engaged design in a research agenda, which collects and analyzes best practices, past and present, as a means of developing innovative strategies for engagement.

IA Conference Session: Commission on Publicly Engaged Design

Saturday, October 11—Afternoon Session (1:30–3:00 p.m.)

Oceanic Ballroom C, 4th Floor

In this session, design leaders throughout our network will launch Imagining America’s new Commission on Publicly Engaged Design (CoPED), co-chaired by James Fathers and Marc Norman. Led by the CoPED planning team, the session will be comprised of national leaders in the range of design fields including engineering, architecture, and interactive design. Together, participants will review the state of public interest in design, consider ways IA can advance such work at member campuses across the country, and create a charge for the commission moving forward.

Participants should come prepared to share several exemplary case studies of publicly engaged design work in the current field, not just as a report, but to draw from them key learning moments from which an agenda for the commission can be imagined.


  • James Fathers, Professor and Chair of the Department of Design, Syracuse University
  • Marc Norman, 2014–15 Loeb Fellow Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
  • Tom Fisher, Professor and Dean of the College of Design, School of Architecture, University of Minnesota
  • Marybeth Lima, Cliff & Nancy Spanier Alumni Professor, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, Louisiana State University