The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Master of Design: Public Art and Engagement

The Master of Design in Public Art & Engagement emphasizes transdisciplinary creative research and practice. We seek individuals from diverse backgrounds with an interest in bridging art, design, and public space. Public art plays a critical and formative role in shaping communal spaces. The civil and environmental disturbances we face today call for intelligent creative makers to engage with the public sphere in an effort to build a more just, inviting, and equitable world. In collaboration with communities and the lands they occupy, artists and designers are uniquely positioned to envision and create spaces that offer meaning and connection.

As contemporary artists expand their practices to become more contextual in site-specific public art and social practice– designers, architects and landscape architects have ventured into making more conceptual work known as urban interventions, installation art, and speculative fictions. This cross-pollination has opened multiple avenues for creative partnerships and knowledge exchange with a particular emphasis on social and environmental justice. The MDes program in Public Art and Engagement offers a unique opportunity for advanced study in creative place-making, sustainable place-keeping, publicly funded art installations, and socially progressive monuments that promote diversity equity, and inclusion.

The MDes program offers access to leading researchers in the disciplines of history, landscape architecture and regional planning program, fine arts, building construction, and sustainable communities. Housed in the award-winning John W Olver Design Building, graduate students have access to digital, technical, and analog fabrication methods in a state-of-the-art Fab-Lab and woodshop.

Directed by Sandy Litchfield (, the Public Art & Engagement Program is committed to creative practice, sustainability, and inclusion through its various educational initiatives, which include:

  • A one- or two-year Master of Design in Public Art & Engagement degree (link)
  • A joint, three- or four-year Master of Design in Public Art & Engagement and Master of Architecture degree

Credits may be transferable to alternate advanced degree programs.

To learn more contact: Sandy Litchfield (, program advisor.