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Conceptual Design

The center applies knowledge and methodologies inherent in the discipines of the arts and humanities to create strategic solutions to some of the pressing social and economic issues of our time—immigration, health care, education reform, food insecurity, racism, violence and homelessness to list only a few. The center researches, develops and initiates projects with researchers and creative artists, resulting in programs, products and creative works. 


The Synergy Workshop, an important function of the center, is an arts and humanities process model which allows for research, design and initiation of projects, creative works and products that will be spun off to other locations. The process allows participation from varying perspectives and methods, facilitating synergy. It can be used to analyze a number of systems including: culture, community, family, individual (psychological/emotional), the natural world and environment, and technical and biological systems.

For example: During our Baltimore Think-A-Thon, a group of researchers and activists examined the problem of food deserts and factors contributing to the lack of healthy food choices in economically challenged neighborhoods. While the problem could have been examined at the level of the individual or the culture, they determined that the relative scarcity of fresh produce was the point of greatest susceptibility (the "pivotal point"). After they examined their resources, they contacted the owners of a recently opened, small fresh food grocery store and arranged for the store to become a vendor to fill the gap in fresh produce.


The Synergy Workshop is cyclical, with preliminary learnings feeding into the next cycle:

Step One: Define the question or problem and goal

Step Two: Describe assumptions and preliminary evidence

Step Three: Describe resources, susceptibilities and opportunities

Step Four: Define the “pivotal point” at which the least intervention will lead to the most effect

Step Five: Select the research question of interest

Step Six: Conduct research

Step Seven: Design or create based on the information gathered in the previous steps

Step Eight: Demonstrate or produce the design or creation

Step Nine: Evaluate the design or creation based on the definition in step one  

Step Ten: Redesign or reproduce