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Social design professionals to support NGOs in addressing global challenges

Project Change Agent has launched, involving art and design universities from six countries – including also unibz - working together under the leadership of Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME) and with the European NGO sector to seek long-term solutions in the field of extreme poverty, gender equality and the social mobility of children.

The collaboration of unibz, the Fundacio Privada Elisava Escola Universitaria in Barcelona, the Kunstiakadeemia in Estonia, the Universität Der Künste in Berlin, MOME, and soon the Shenkar College in Israel is designed to make use of new methods and strategies to help connect NGOs engaged in addressing social and sustainability challenges with higher education institutions.  

The initiative was launched by the Social Design Network, founded by the Social Design Hub of the MOME Innovation Center and the Hadassah Academic College of Israel in 2020 with the aim of expanding the knowledge base of social design. With a pool of renowned researchers, teachers, and practical professionals from across the world, the network aims to advance relevant education and research worldwide.  

The Faculty of Design and Art is also a member of the professional network. As professors Secil Ugur Yavuz and Sonia Matos Cabral said, commenting on the objectives of the project at the project kick-off event held in Hungary, “The project will provide valuable “tools and methods” to establish new collaborations with the NGOs and sustain them in long-term basis. Not to start from scratch, but to build on some already tested/approved methods to become real change agents”.

Change Agents is the first Erasmus+ partnership with MOME heading the consortium, and takes the ambitions of the network one step further. It is not only intended to bridge the gap between the sectors existing in isolation, but also focuses on addressing real issues by building infrastructures and methodologies with improved sustainability, and developing pilot methods and best practices.  

 “As a researcher, I believe that the only way to offer adequate responses addressing real needs to the social problems of today and the challenges of tomorrow is by working together across different fields. Project Change Agents offers an opportunity to find the optimal way to work together for good causes. Using the guidelines developed during the project, we can help the target groups involved genuinely benefit from it. We can also systematically organise the experience from working with a variety of communities and be the first to do so in an international context”, said researcher and project lead Rita Szerencsés.  She went on to add that the main focus of the MOME Social Design Hub is working together with various social groups, organisations and sectors. 

The Social Design Hub has a history of implementing highly successful projects, such as FRUSKA which focuses on boosting the self-esteem and creativity of teenage girls, a programme in Zalakomár developed together with the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta or a research project on the safe urban mobility of young school children. 

Over the course of 2023, project Change Agents will, through multiple workshops, explore the social design-based methodology that will be presented in 2024 at a professional conference and is intended to create, among other achievements, a more inclusive higher education system.