After four wonderful years, I’m stepping away from being Director of the MA in Sustainable Design program to pursue other projects. I am happy to (re) introduce Dawn Keene as the new Interim Director of the Program! I say (re) introduce because Dawn has been both a student – in the graduating class of 2013 – and a faculty member in the program. Below is a short interview with Dawn to help you get to know her – and the program – a little better.
You’ve mentioned several times that taking on this position feels like you’ve come full circle. Tell us what you mean by that.
Life is a series of journeys and events. My journey to making the world a better place started at MASD. After completing the MASD program, I knew that I wanted to give back to the community and younger generation. I became involved with U.S. Green Building Council’s High Performance Healthy Schools with an interest in marginalized communities, Title 1 schools, and children coming from low-income families.
Learning to be an inclusive leader at MASD and then coming back to teach and now leading the program as Interim Director, gives me the opportunity to educate, engage and inspire the next generation of sustainability leaders. I am the example – I know what can happen when you go through this program. MCAD’s vision of collaboration, empathy and inclusiveness helped me accomplish my goals.
How or why did you get into sustainability?
My experience in sustainability began with AT&T in the late 1990’s where I worked with the director of recycling to implement various waste reduction strategies throughout the company. That experience piqued my interest and ability to infuse sustainability in my work as a business owner and designer.
What attracted you to this program as a student?
Initially, I found out about the program in one of my design magazines. I was curious as well, so I decided to take a class and I never looked back. The breadth of classes, diverse experience, and background of the faculty to learn from was appealing as well. It was fully online, and the fact that I could learn from anywhere made it a perfect fit for my needs and lifestyle.
You taught Creative Leadership in this program last spring. What was it like to teach a course that you took 10 years ago?
It brought back memories of what I enjoyed most about the class, the different perspectives, and insights of the students about some of the same issues I visited several years ago, as well as my favorite project of developing the creative leadership blog. I enjoyed seeing how students applied a variety of creative leadership principles and models through a much wider lens as well as being very open minded and inclusive in their approach to their work.
Do you keep in touch with other MASD alumni?
Oh yes! When I was in the program several years ago, we were a small group and very tight-knit. I have stayed in touch with several of my classmates over the years and they are my dearest friends. We talk often, share ideas, and have worked on projects together. Those were some fun times.
What do you like most about the students and faculty in the MASD program?
I love the energy that the students bring to this program by wanting to carve out a special place for themselves to make a difference in the world that creates lasting impact. The faculty, second to none, push the boundaries and create a space for students to engage in deeper learning, thinking and problem solving.
What do you think is the “next big thing” in sustainability or sustainable design?
A renewed, long, overdue focus in social systems and redesigning them to be fair, inclusive, diverse, and equitable for all. I am not the only one who feels that way. According to the GreenBiz article, “10 sustainability and social impact trends that we’re watching,” Social justice has shifted to the top of the agenda. According to a survey of 150 executives by top consultancy firm Porter Novelli in 2020, 71 percent said never, in their entire careers, had they felt more pressure to engage with issues of social justice.
If you want to reinvent your work and feel like you are giving back in some way, or just ready to make a change, I invite you to explore our Masters of Arts in Sustainable Design program. It could make all the difference.