Sustainable Design Tools, Toils, and Tales

Alumni in Action

Join us for two fantastic events offered by
MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design
at Design Week Portland!


Panel Discussion  

Join us Friday evening April 20 for the panel

Sustainable Design Tools, Toils, and Tales:
Lessons from MCAD MA in Sustainable Design Alumni

Designers face a number of competing and compelling demands. They must balance the drive for creative initiatives with the constraints of budgets; the search for new methods with the need to hone existing skills; the needs of clients with the needs of the industry. In the midst of these challenges, it can seem almost impossible to consider the ways in which the field of design is uniquely positioned to contribute to the work of addressing local and global challenges. And yet, design thinking is uniquely positioned to help us, and those with whom we work, contribute new ways of thinking through reducing waste and combating the world’s most pressing issues.

This panel will introduce you to a number of designers working to integrate sustainable thinking and design practices, following their completion of MCAD’s Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program. They will share some of their favorite mental models and tools, their struggles and triumphs, and tips for designing for positive impact in the world. Moderated by the program’s director, this panel of alumni will take some of your questions about the program and, more broadly, about the work of integrating sustainability into their design roles and beyond.




Join us Saturday morning April 21 for the workshop

Sustainable Designer’s Toolbox


Interested in systems thinking? Sustainability and design? Innovation tools and processes? In this workshop, we’ll give a sneak peak into a sustainability-focused designer’s toolbox. We’ll discuss frameworks, tools, and mental models deployed to integrate deeper thinking for positive impact. We’ll look at carbon footprints and play with activities used to reduce waste, create value, and innovate.

As designers, we see the world in unique ways, dream up creative ideas, and execute interesting solutions. How might we use these powers to make things in more sustainable ways? How do we engage in a design career that reduces the negative impacts people have on the planet and increases the positive impacts?

This workshop will be co-facilitated by the Director and alumni of MCAD’s Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program (MASD, fully online), the first accredited program of its kind, which curates a learning experience that helps designers become better creative problem solvers, better researchers, and more responsible makers.

Denise DeLuca / Former Director

Denise DeLuca is the Director of MCAD’s Sustainable Design program. She was co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry Creative for Innovation, a network of creative professional change agents driving ecological thinking for radical transformation. Denise is author of the book Re-Aligning with Nature: Ecological Thinking for Radical Transformation, which was illustrated by MASD alum Stephanie Koehler. She also teaches with the Amani Institute.

Denise’s previous roles include Education Director for the International Living Future Institute, Project Manager for Swedish Biomimetics 3000, and Outreach Director for The Biomimicry Institute. Denise is a licensed civil engineer (PE) and holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a focus on modeling landscape-scale surface and groundwater interactions.  In addition, Denise is a Biomimicry Fellow and a member of the Advisory Council of The Biomimicry InstituteBoard Member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), on the editorial board of the Journal of Bionic Engineering, and an Expert with Katerva. Denise is based in Oregon.

contact:  [email protected]


Stefanie Koehler

Stefanie Koehler is a designer of things and non-things. As a sustainability-focused human, she aims to create solutions that work to regenerate our environmental, cultural, and creative global and local economies. Trained as a product designer, she also likes to play with the art of not making things, or rather doing smart (not clever) design. Stefanie practices designing with extreme user empathy and leveraging whole systems and service design to realign innovation, business, and natural cycles. Stefanie has a traditional industrial design background (BS in Industrial Design; Western Michigan University (2009)) but has an inherent desire ‘do more good’ rather than just ‘doing less bad’. Struck by how little she knew about materials and product life cycles, she pursued a degree focused on sustainability; she graduated from MCAD with a MA in Sustainable Design in 2013. Stefanie is based in Oregon.