Engaged Program Initiative: Sedlack and Conrado

Author: Center for Social Concerns

Robert Sedlack, associate professor of Graphic Design, and Ann-Marie Conrado, assistant professor of Industrial Design, each foster rich community engagement opportunities for students through the design courses they offer here and around the world.

Professor Sedlack has taken his design students to South Africa each of the past two years where they work with local organizations and residents to address the country’s serious challenges with xenophobia. The result is the national award-winning Together+ Anti-Xenophobia Project, which has produced a variety of materials to educate in South Africa about refugee rights. His latest project focuses on the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. He also has involved his students in community-based design projects in Haiti as well as locally at partner organizations such as the Northern Indiana Center for History, Center for the Homeless, the Juvenile Justice Center, and Potawatami Zoo.

Professor Sedlack said, “My personal research is focused on the life-changing impact that design can have when applied appropriately and collaboratively with organizations dedicated to social betterment.”

Professor Conrado views her work as “harnessing the power and potential of design to address humanitarian issues.” She regularly takes students to Nepal to engage with the Association for Craft Producers as well as the non-profit she and her husband founded, HOPE Initiative. Student projects there have included a $3 washing machine, a rapid deploy emergency shelter, and a self-sterilizing umbilical cord cutter.

In light of their commitment to educate Notre Dame students through collaboration with community partners, and to do so in ways that make a difference in local communities, the Center for Social Concerns is pleased to partner with them in the new Engaged Program Initiative. This initiative will formalize and support a sustained (3–5 year) and pervasive commitment to academic community engagement within a University department or program. Through this initiative, Professors Sedlack and Conrado will guide efforts to more broadly make visible their own and other engaged scholarship occurring in the Art, Art History, and Design Department, and foster new forms of academic community engagement from within the Department. The Center will contribute financial and staff support to these efforts.

Professor Sedlack will hold a concurrent faculty position with the Center for Social Concerns, and receive a grant to support his community-based research efforts. Professor Conrado will be a Faculty Fellow with the Center to further develop and deepen her collaboration with the Center’s International Summer Service Learning Program in Nepal.

As a professional graphic designer, Sedlack is responsible for consultation service, design, and execution of a wide variety of print and interactive projects to the business and cultural community. Sedlack has been included inGraphic Design USA magazine’s list of “People to Watch” and recognized by the Indianapolis Peace Institute with a Cornerstone Peacebuilding Award.