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Art, design, and urbanism combine for 'groundbreaking' MFA program in Midtown

A parklet in Corktown (2015), an example of a possible project at LTU's new master's program

A confluence of art, design, and urbanism is coming to Detroit thanks to a new master's degree program at Lawrence Technological University's Detroit Center for Technology + Design in Midtown. Officials are touting the Master of Fine Arts program as groundbreaking and a first for the region.

The Social Practice master's degree looks at how art and design can positively impact public space in our communities, says Steve Coy, the Lawrence Tech assistant professor who developed the program.

Coy estimates there are only eleven such programs in the United States, with the first known Social Practice program developed at the California College of the Arts in 2005. Most other Social Practice programs are located on the east and west coasts of the country, with the nearest known program being offered at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Steve Coy, assistant professor at Lawrence Technological University
While Coy says that people have been using art, design, and urbanism to affect positive change in Detroit for years, a more formal and institutional approach can further enhance such efforts.

"This will allow us to connect people so that conversations and movements can unify, to give us a point to rally around," says Coy. "Universities are open source networks. We can share what works, what doesn't work, and make it better so people aren't acting in isolated pockets."

The program will cover a broad spectrum of ideas, from city planning and tactical urbanism to street art and public persuasion. It's a win-win, says Coy, as communities get well-thought out solutions to planning issues while students get on-the-ground training for future professions.

He adds that the program should appeal to those interested in planning, design, and the arts.

Coy first started teaching at Lawrence Tech in 2011, though he's probably best known for the Hygienic Dress League, the public art project he co-founded with his wife Dorota. The Coys also co-founded Wolf Moon Mixers.

Enrollment for the Social Practice MFA program is now open. More information is available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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