To learn more about our community partnerships, view our Local Partnerships Publication and check out our recent engaged courses and initiatives at the Sam Fox School.

The Creative Practice for Social Change minor is a recent initiative of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts to provide students with a deeper understanding of how to use creative practices in art, design, and architecture to address systemic social challenges. As part of “Design in Social Systems,” the core seminar for this minor, students work with a variety of community partners across St. Louis. This past Spring, our focus was on four community-based organizations across the region: Perennial, Arbolope, Better Family Life, and Creative Reaction Lab

Katie Carpenter, Executive Director of Perennial STL

Perennial gives folks the space and skills to build their creative confidence. Being resourceful doesn’t have to be a constraint. It’s an opportunity for engagement, impact, and joy.

Antionette Carroll, Founder and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab

What many designers don’t realize is that they have the power to truly create change. As problem solvers, collaborators, and challengers, we have the power to develop approaches around systemic impact, from micro campaigns to macro policy changes. The way we think. The way we approach all issues. The way we depict. Our mode of being moves beyond visual to intellectual and actionable. We have our craft. Now each designer (and design thinker) needs to determine their mission.

L. Irene Compadre, Principal at Arbolope Studio

Even though we want to believe that we are part of the same community, we need to recognize that our experience is limited, and that we need to look at others to understand the broader picture. As an example, for our project on Cherokee street we had to engage with a variety of people so we made sure that our client group reflected this diversity.

James Clark, Former VP of Community Outreach at Better Family Life

Social service organizations have got to be willing to go into the neighborhoods, stand on the front porch, and go sit in the living room. That’s where you’ll get the best lens. Study it, analyze it, or research our neighborhoods from the living room view, and you can come up with real-time solutions.