Final presentations for the Never Again Designmatters course.

Educational Programs and Curriculum

Generous contributions from our funding partners enable ArtCenter to innovate and diversify our course offerings, facilitating interdisciplinary programs and initiatives such as those in our Designmatters program. By aligning with the values of sustainable development, global health, public policy, social justice and entrepreneurship, our donors play a vital role in advancing ArtCenter's mission to cultivate socially conscious designers who drive meaningful change in the world.


Total Contributed in Fiscal Year 2023


Where art and design education meets social change.

Jennifer May is the Executive Director of ArtCenter

Designmatters programming enables students to address today's critical social issues locally and globally. With support from foundations, sponsors, and partners, ArtCenter students work on real-world projects with communities, often leading to impactful outcomes beyond the classroom.

Jennifer MayExecutive Director, Designmatters, Outreach + DEIAB, Interdisciplinary Studies

Program Spotlight: Never Again 9066: Artists and Designers Against Asian Violence

Funded by a grant from the California State Library, this Spring 2023 Designmatters course tasked students with creating visually compelling public displays and educational materials that shed light on the historic injustices of the WWII Japanese American incarceration camps. Students gained insight through interviews and conversations with survivors of the camps (including alumni of the College), from civil liberties experts, and through a trip to the Manzanar National Historic Site. The course culminated in the public exhibition Never Again 9066: Lessons from America’s Incarceration Camps and a Stand Against Anti-Asian Violence at The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena and in the development of groundbreaking College curricula that will be modified into standards-relevant materials for elementary and secondary students in local public school districts.

Bianca Nozaki-Nasser

I’m so happy to see so much of the students in their own work: their relationship to the subject, their family histories, the questions they were interested in. Their work reflects sensitivity to the topic but also celebrates the dignity and humanity of these stories.

Bianca Nozaki-NasserFaculty, Designmatters

I identify as both Japanese and American. Since my grandfather was incarcerated at Manzanar when he was a little boy, I wanted to learn more. I wanted my project to honor that history, to keep that legacy alive.

Emily ChenStudent

Never Again 9066: Lessons from America’s Incarceration Camps and a Stand Against Anti-Asian Violence

Program Spotlight: Sustainable Manufacturing for Inventors and Entrepreneurs

VentureWell's support empowered ArtCenter faculty members Mia Ferrera Wiesenthal and Roosevelt Brown to shape the curriculum for Sustainable Manufacturing for Inventors and Entrepreneurs, a course that enabled students to take the reins in eco-friendly manufacturing, seamlessly melding creativity with tangible, real-world impact. Advanced materials took center stage, coupled with advocacy for transformative shifts in consumer behavior–a dual focus that transcended superficial aesthetics for substantive change. Stepping beyond conventional methodologies, the course instilled a culture of innovation with a focus on environmental preservation. As a result, students emerged as vocal proponents of environmental stewardship, furnished with the knowledge necessary to drive change in consumer and industry norms towards sustainability.

Donor Spotlight: VentureWell

For 15 years, VentureWell has been a vital partner to ArtCenter, contributing over $500,000 to support student inventors, entrepreneurs and several courses in the Designmatters program. While typically focusing on larger research universities in the hard sciences, VentureWell has recognized ArtCenter's unique, future-forward approach to sustainability in design education with over 15 grants. Founded by Jerome Lemelson in 1995, VentureWell aims to empower student-led ventures for positive social and environmental impact. Their support has transformed ArtCenter's entrepreneurial education, shaping the curriculum to nurture innovative thinkers and changemakers. Grateful for VentureWell's unwavering support, ArtCenter looks forward to continued collaboration in driving eco-conscious innovation and positive change, and in shaping a new generation of designers committed to spearheading significant shifts for a greener future.

Mia Ferrera Wiesenthal Associate Professor, Product Design at ArtCenter College of Design

With VentureWell's generous support, Sustainable Manufacturing for Inventors and Entrepreneurs confronts today's environmental urgencies, guiding us toward innovative solutions for the future. Their backing shifts our focus beyond mere sleek design; it instills a sense of eco-activism in our students, preparing them for immediate action and ensuring they're equipped for an adaptable, future-focused impact.

Mia Ferrera WiesenthalAssociate Professor, Product Design