Conventional wisdom tells us that eco-anxiety—an indirect mental health impact of climate change—is preventing us from effectively responding to the threat of climate change. This form of anxiety is also marked by an existential worry about the future for oneself, children, and later generations. Karen Vellensky challenges this idea through her thesis, Good Grief: Inducing eco-anxiety as a call to climate action.
Will Lentz master’s thesis Eating Together: Explorations in an Anti-Social Food System promotes a resurgence in the social value of communal eating experiences. In a time when isolation and independence are increasingly common, Lentz offers products and provocations aimed at bringing people back together over food.
Andrea Cameron’s master’s thesis, Playing with Firebrands, explores student agency in education. Inspired by the work of progressive educators and student-centered design, the motivation was to incorporate principles from progressive education into public education. The objective was to take the best practices in privatized education and make them accessible to public schools.
In her MFA thesis Dominion, Ailun Sai discusses the relationship between animals and humans. Through a series of design—including product design, experience design, and interaction design—Ailun encourages people to reflect on their role in the natural world and to question their perceived sense of superiority over animals.
Julia Lindpaintner’s thesis work was inspired by her own experience of serving on a grand jury in Manhattan during the summer of 2016. It profoundly changed her understanding of the judicial system, and in particular, the way she saw her role in it. “My mental model shifted,” Julia states. She further explains, “Instead of seeing the judicial system as an autonomous force over which I had no influence, I felt viscerally the way in which we, as citizens, are collectively responsible for the system and the outcomes it produces.”