New School News

Friends in DEED: Students Travel to Colombia for Development through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship and Design Project

New School students will have the opportunity to work with various artisan associations in Manizales, Colombia as part of their work for DEED. Photo by Cynthia Lawson.

On May 31, a team of New School students will travel to the city of Manizales in Colombia’s coffee region as part of DEED (Development through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Design), a research project designed to support artisan-owned small businesses in the developing world.

Led by Cynthia Lawson, assistant professor of Integrated Design at Parsons, and Fabiola Berdiel, assistant director, International Field Program at Milano, students from numerous programs within Parsons and Milano will travel through the state of Caldas to meet various artisan associations and assess their needs and interests. The student experience will culminate with the development of a feasibility study on DEED’s long-term relationships with local partners in the region. DEED’s end goal is a demonstration that this triumvirate of designer, artisan, and university collaboration can help sustain and enhance local businesses.

Because DEED is a multi-year project, a new group of students will continue these efforts this fall in the classroom, devising a business plan and researching new markets for locally produced craft products.

The brainchild of Professors Lawson and Berdiel, along with Pascale Gatzen, DEED’s work in Manizales is the project’s third location. Beginning in 2007, previous groups of students have participated in similar projects in two Guatemalan towns as well as in Cucunub√°, Colombia. New School News looks forward to talking with students at length when they return to New York. Throughout the summer, you can follow their journey at


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