Jean Brennan is a Professor in the Graduate Communications Design Department at Pratt Institute with teaching appointments in Transformation Design, Emerging Practices, Technology, Sustainability & Design, Thesis, and Design Research. With her students, she investigates making as a form of research, community engagement, and horizontal structures for learning and collaboration.

Emerging Practices Elective:
Governance, Design Objects & Visual Language
Flags, currency, stamps are a kind of pattern language that mark a region, group, or set of relationships. Drawing from examples of adaptation or appropriation by artists and designers, students employ systems thinking to design a set of symbols and procedures for exchange, communication, or representation, applied across multiple platforms to represent a community, entity, body politic, etc. of their choosing considering intercultural contexts beyond the nation state. We will consider how designerly means can be used to construct a public.

Transformation Design Studio
This studio will focus on strategies to utilize design as a means for transformation. With an emphasis on a human-centered, holistic, and empathic approach, students will apply “design thinking” methodologies to problems and issues in an attempt to transform the behaviors of individuals in desirable and sustainable ways, while creating meaningful experiences and interactions for people with communications media, artifacts, environments, organizations, services, systems, and each other. The course will, through lectures and small group discussions, investigate experimental, research and ideation methodologies from numerous disciplines within both contemporary and historical contexts, and seek to identify the emerging responsibilities of design practitioners.

Sustainability and Design Studio

This course explores the contemporary role of sustainable practices as a necessary competency for emerging designers. There is positive and increasing pressure for effective design solutions that balance creativity with social, environmental and economic factors. Through an examination of current best practices involving circular economy and sustainable material management, life-cycle analysis tools and industry reports, students will research, analyze and synthesize core principles of sustainability within a wide array of communications and package design scenarios.

Sustainability and Design Studio Webpage

Design for Mindful Interaction Studio
This section will be a play lab, mixing methods and emerging technologies, while interrogating the idea of mindful interaction. We will look at how designers introduce self or group reflection into a design experience—either in the design process as a form of intention on the part of the designer, or between multiple users of a designed object, experience, or service. In the class, we consider function, and how to disrupt expectation or perception, and therefore behavior or interaction, in a social setting, placing agency in the hands of the user. Students will employ experimental and iterative design processes and methods to prototype networked objects, as well as physical forms—activated through ritual, performance or installation—considering the social/cultural implications of both remote and local site-based experiences.

Design For Mindful Interaction Tumblr

Public Project, 2011-2014

Public Project operates as a collective of faculty and students engaged in the topic of design for social impact and what it means to have a social practice. The initiative lives in the Graduate Communications Design department at Pratt, but its offerings are open to the Institute at large.

Public Project Facebook Page (Archive)


Student Projects

Yi Luo: Big Dumb Objects Manifesto
Hsiao Wen Hu: Datafication Nancy
Siona Balaji, Hsiao Wen Hu: She Persisted

Yue Su, Seminar Research

Tina LePhan: The Designer’s Toolkit

Hye Yun Alice Choi & Yvonne Chow: AdjustaBooth

Katelyn Gregorowicz: Less Shaming, More Gaming
Kun-ju Ho: The Storytag Project

Janice Rudan: Uncover Mannahatta

Jen Mattei: Obedience Not Beauty

Matt Martin: Gamifying Code Learning

Kristen Myers: Subway Faux Pas Bingo
Fangan Xu: Cultural Probe on Memory


Siona Balaji: Language of the Interface
Kun-ju Ho Thesis: Together We Can

Corwin Green Thesis: Commanding the Collective

Kristen Myers Thesis: This Side Up

Emilia Aragon Thesis: Future Backwards

John Olson Thesis: Understanding Internet Memes