The original aim of this collective, when it began in 2010, was to introduce social practice elective studios into the graduate Communication Design department at Pratt. Starting in Fall 2015, social practice is now part of our core curriculum. Therefore Public Project is no longer an active group. However, these discussions continue within the Transformation Design studio, required during both first and second-year Fall semesters for our graduate student. If you are a prospective student, or an alumni, and have questions about the MFA degree at Pratt, feel free to contact me (jbrennan@pratt.edu) or the Chair of our department. 


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. For the 2013-2014 academic year, the following faculty and students comprise Public Project’s cohort: Jean Brennan, David Frisco, Annie Sexton, and Andrew Shea.

We are designers and educators dedicated to creating opportunities to tackle real world challenges through engagements with not-for-profit organizations, institutions, and artists on topics as diverse as: health, immigration, education, creative placemaking, resiliency, and sustainability. These exchanges explore research-driven, participatory and collaborative methodologies. They allow for a dialogue of mutual impact between the community at large and the faculty and students at Pratt.

Additionally, Public Project houses a publishing initiative to broadcast student research, critical writings, and formal design experiments to audiences beyond the Institute. It also organizes non-academic offerings such as lectures, film screenings and actions that mobilize, educate and engage the larger student body.


Jean Brennan is a designer and educator living in Beacon NY. She is an Associate Professor in the graduate Communications Design department at Pratt Institute and teaches classes in design research, digital media, and design advocacy in both the MS and MFA degree programs. She also advises candidates on their thesis.  In her own work and with her students, she investigates social practice, making as a form of research, and the space between art and design.  Jean is an alum of Pratt’s Graduate Communication Design program, and studied Literature & Cultural Studies at University of California at Santa Cruz. In 2003, she completed an apprenticeship at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). Jean co-founded Public Project Fall 2011 and is the co-coordinator for the 2013-14 academic year. 

David Frisco is a designer and educator working in New York City, and an alum of Yale’s Graphic Design MFA program. He is the principal of DFD: David Frisco Design, a small design practice with an emphasis on the art, architectural, educational, cultural and non-profit sectors. David is an Adjunct Associate Professor in both the Undergraduate and Graduate Communications Design department at Pratt Institute, and teaches in the BFA, MS and MFA programs. Recently, David formed IntraCollaborative a design collective comprised of his former Pratt MFA students. They are 2013 recipients of CUP Making Policy Public commission and have been selected for the Center for Architecture’s 2013 Graphic Designer Shortlist. David is the Public Project co-coordinator for the 2013-14 academic year.

Gala Narezo is an artist whose work focuses on community and social impact. She is the co-founder of ‘what moves you?’ an organization that uses collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches to engage the public in advocacy issues. She also co-founded Indocumentales/Undocumentaries, an itinerant film and dialogue series on Mexican-US immigration. She was the NGO representative to the United Nations for Designmatters at ArtCenter College of Design for many years and is now teaching and  creating educational, multi-stakeholder opportunities for Public Project at Pratt.

Andrew Shea is a designer, writer, and educator based in New York City. He is a partner at MANY, a social impact design studio that works with civic, cultural, and educational organizations. His solo and collaborative work has been featured by Fast Company, Slate, Print, How Magazine, 99 Percent Invisible, Communication Arts, Adbusters, Core77 and Metropolis Magazine, among others. His design writing has appeared in Core77, AIGA, Design Observer, Entrepreneur Magazine, Designer’s Review of Books, and GOOD. His book, Designing for Social Change: Strategies for Community-Based Graphic Design, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. He teaches Graduate Communications Design department at Pratt Institute and his design interests include design for social change, creative placemaking, behavior change, and the relationship between policy and design. Andrew often speaks about design, recently at TEDx Transmedia. He received his MFA in Graphic Design from Maryland Institute College of Art.

Annie Sexton is currently working toward her Masters in Communications Design at Pratt Institute. She has a background in social work, education and sustainable development and is seeking to bridge her professional experience with her interest in design for social impact. Annie graduated from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH with a BFA in Fine Arts and a concentration in Communications. In 2010, she completed an Online Master’s Course in Sustainable Development through the Blekinge Institute, as well as a certificate in Sustainable Practices from Dominican University in San Rafael, CA. Annie is our Public Project intern for the 2013-14 academic year.



Leave a Reply