The summer of 2009 marked the third annual year of the Parsons/Open Society Institute “Fellowships in Information Design,” with students from Parsons MFA program in Design and Technology traveling to countries in Africa and Eastern Europe to work with local NGOs on health and human rights issues. One such project was the Stop Stockouts campaign, focusing on access to essential medicines in Africa. Parsons students designed an SMS-based system that allowed activists in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia to use mobile phones to report stock levels of essential medicines in clincs in their respective countries.
About the OSI/Parsons Collaboration
The Open Society Institute’s Public Health Program aims to advance the health and human rights of marginalized persons by building the capacity of civil society leaders and organizations, and advocating for accountability and a strong civil society role in health policy and practice. In an effort to strengthen advocacy on health and human rights issues, the Public Health Program at OSI and the MFA Design and Technology (DT) Program at Parsons developed “Fellowships in Information Design,” which gives NGOs the opportunity to host a graduate student fellow from Parsons DT.
The need for such a program arose in response to how information communication technology (ICT) has revolutionized how people communicate and access information. By taking advantage of ICT, NGOs can increase the effectiveness of their advocacy campaigns. This internship program allows Parsons graduate students to support NGOs in developing effective media and communication strategies by sharing their expertise in information design and media production.
In 2007, the program was launched with five NGOs in Africa and the former Soviet Union. Fellows provided several weeks of on-site support, followed by months of off-site technical and design support. To date, fifteen NGOs have benefited from this program and thus bolstered their advocacy campaigns addressing some of the following issues: HIV prevention services for people who use drugs; pain relief and palliative care for people with life-limiting illnesses; community-based care for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses; rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons; and health equity through greater government accountability. OSI and Parsons are pleased to be continuing the “Fellowships in Information Design” in 2010 with six more anticipated fellowship placements.
Written by: amt