Where art and design education meet social change.

ArtCenter recognizes the power of design to change the world. Through research, advocacy and action, the College’s social impact department, Designmatters, engages, empowers and leads an ongoing exploration of art and design as a positive force in society. Designmatters courses vary from term to term, but include academic, discipline-specific and studio-based offerings that engage students across all majors, taught with a dynamic, entrepreneurial and experiential approach to design education.

The Designmatters Concentration is a course of study available to students interested in coupling a desire for creative excellence with a passion for generating innovative solutions to social challenges. Upon graduation, Concentration students earn a certificate in Art and Design for Social Impact in addition to their undergraduate degrees, and enter the working world armed with a toolkit that opens up many exciting career pathways. Additionally, Designmatters is a key partner of ArtCenter’s Media Design Practices/Field Track, offering graduate students the chance to design for social impact in a real-world context where social issues, media infrastructure and communication technology intersect.

The Designmatters Fellowship Program embeds top students in host organizations for one full 14-week academic term to work on high-level projects and explore the mission, model and meaning of the host organization’s work.

Through both programs, students tackle local, national and global issues head-on, from preventing homelessness and youth gun violence in the U.S., to empowering adolescent girls living in poverty and developing clean water solutions internationally.

The values of sustainable development, global health, public policy and social entrepreneurship are core to the curriculum, programs and projects, with the outcomes of students’ work widely disseminated beyond the studio’s walls.

Vice President

Mariana Amatullo

Mariana co-founded Designmatters in 2001, and later expanded it into a graduate and undergraduate department.

We aspire to redefine and expand the role of an artist and designer into one who is a catalyst for social change and innovation.

Dr. Mariana AmatulloVice President, Designmatters

Student Gallery

Notable alumni working in the social impact design field.


Lester Ng (BFA 85 Graphic Design)

Visual Experience Designer, Medic Mobile

Tina Park (MFA 06 Media Design Practices) and Miya Osaki (MFA 07 Media Design Practices)

Diagram Founders

Mari Nakano (MFA 09 Media Design Practices)

Visual Strategy Lead, UNICEF Innovation Unit