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TEAMBUILDING AMERICA: A DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE

Countering social and political polarization in the United States through design and team building.

Context

Master's Thesis (MFA in Products of Design).

Project advisor: Allan Chochinov

Teambuilding America was a yearlong research and design project to address growing polarization in the United States. Drawing from my background facilitating group development and personal growth experiences, I chose to model the problem as a team-building challenge. An intensive research and synthesis period led me to develop an ecosystem of thirteen design concepts for depolarization. A selection of concepts are shown below.

Final thesis presentation. SVA Theatre, NYC, 5.14.19

Teambuilding America thesis compendium

RESEARCH

Interviews were a large part of the research process. I spoke with more than fifty experts working in design, politics, and organizational development. These experts came from across the United States and the political spectrum.

I also read books, political research studies, academic papers, news articles, opinion pieces, and social media threads. My commutes were filled with political podcasts, especially the Ezra Klein Show and the Science of Politics podcast. 

SYSTEMS MAPPING

Mapping the systems of social and political polarization revealed key driving forces and design opportunities. 

STRATEGIES

DESIGNS FOR

FUTURE

DESIGNS FOR

ACTION

DESIGNS FOR

CONTACT

UNION

App Design

ESCALATION

Game Design

CO-CREATING THE AMERICAN FUTURE

Participatory Design

STUMBLE

App Design

UNBOXING AMERICA

Service Design

REPLY FORWARD

Experience Design

SCALES OF INTERACTION

Fundamentally, healing from polarization comes down to repairing relationships at varying scales.

Synthesis from the interviews revealed four distinct scales of relationships and interactions, as well as opportunity spaces at each of those scales. 

RELATIONSHIP FIRST AID KIT

The Relationship First Aid Kit (RFAK) is a design concept that promotes healing at each scale of interaction described above, using four unique tools.

INTERPERSONAL

CONTEXTUAL

INTRAPERSONAL

COMMUNAL