Students for Design Activism




Students for Design Activism is a Campus Life program in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. The mission of SDA is to produce innovative, collaborative and effective design solutions that address vital community needs. SDA fosters professional growth for students and provides communities with a design voice in an atmosphere of collaboration and innovation.

We are a group of students who are interested in using our skills in design to engage with our community in the Twin Cities, MN, metropolitan area. We are graduate and undergraduate students in landscape architecture, architecture, engineering, interior design, graphic design, and more.

SDA generally takes the following types of projects:

  • sustainable urban landscape (re)development
  • interactive community/shared landscape design
  • innovative transportation projects
  • community design charrettes
  • …and much more. Please see our portfolio for examples of completed projects.

SDA provides design advice as a volunteer organization to community partners that would otherwise not have a design voice. We do not take on the following types of projects:

  • private residential landscape design
  • private comission projects (i.e. murals, residential interior designs, commercial brand designs, etc.)
  • free labor.

If you or your organization are in need of SDA’s skills and services, please contact us. If your project fits the skills and interests of student members, we may be able to take it on (we cannot, however, guarantee that students will be available). If SDA commits to a project, we will provide the following:

  • A multidisciplinary team of students with a designated leader to work on the project
  • Clearly established expectations of deliverables (eg. construction/planting plans, renderings of project design, etc.)
  • A clear project timeline (projects can range from 3 weeks to more than a year to complete, depending on scope)
  • Frequent, clear communication with the partner organization on progress

SDA is dedicated to producing innovative designs through a collaborative process. We hope to work alongside our community partners and clients in a mutual learning environment. We expect our partners to:

  • Designate an individual as the primary client contact
  • Provide clear instructions to and expectations of the students
  • Provide students with any needed information on an agreed upon schedule.
  • Attend meetings with students as needed
  • Be as flexible as possible with your schedule to accommodate the students’ scheduling needs
  • Willingly share organization information with the students; the more open and honest you are the better results you will receive.
  • Return all e-mail messages or phone calls from students

SDA is a non-profit organization and provides its services for free. However, some projects may require reimbursement for student out-of-pocket expenditures, including mileage, printing, copying, required materials, mailings, etc. A contract regarding these costs as well as all other expectations of the project will be established at the commencement of every SDA project.

If you have any other questions, please contact us.