Teaching Team: Deland Chan, Glenn Fajardo, Kevin Hsu

America is “alone together.” Amid the torrent of digital technologies and social media, feelings of isolation have grown increasingly acute. As we go through our daily motions in the public sphere, are there ways to connect with strangers and acquaintances passing us by and create more social good?

 From dialogue to reciprocal giving, this class explores real-world human exchanges and how they can lead to social connection. Budding designers will generate and test ideas for products, services, or experiences that foster a sense of reciprocity, belonging, and mutual exchange, in the spirit of the Greek definition of “philanthropy”: to love humanity and promote human welfare.

These designs can be implemented in a range of settings: for tenants sharing the same dormitory or dining hall, passengers riding the same train, or pedestrians standing on a street corner. In this class, we will pilot ideas for increased human interaction in a place that can feel at once familiar and distant: here on the Farm.

Participants will gain a more artful understanding of types of human connections, while practicing rapid prototyping skills to build and test methods of promoting generous exchange. Starting with small exchanges, we can enrich each other’s lives in a multitude of positive ways. By building stronger channels for unexpected connections every day, we uncover new internal resources, expand our reservoirs of goodwill, and contribute to the building of community.