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VIDEOS: UC Humanitarian Design Course Heads to Tanzania


Honors students in a spring Humanitarian Design class completed that course with a two-week summer trip to rural Tanzania where they tested their projects and came up with some new ones.

Date: 7/17/2011 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Group in Tanzania

UC ingot   Honors students from throughout the University of Cincinnati recently enrolled in a new spring quarter College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) course called “Humanitarian Design” taught by Michael Zaretsky, assistant professor in the nationally ranked School of Architecture and Interior Design (SAID).



During the course, the students were challenged to research how design can be used to solve problems in the Developing World. Then, in June, 12 of the 14 students enrolled in the course traveled to Tanzania in order to develop their ideas with the local communities.

Led by Zaretsky and by Tom Bible, SAID associate professor, the students traveled to Roche, Tanzania, and to surrounding villages because of previous work in the region by UC faculty and students involved in the Cincinnati-based non-profit Village Life Outreach Project. Accompanying the Honors students – who represented majors as diverse as accounting, architecture, industrial design, biomedical engineering, graphic design, interior design, philosophy and Spanish/Arabic – were students from UC’s College of Medicine and members of UC’s Engineers Without Borders group.

The Humanitarian Design students worked on, tested and developed projects related to infrastructure, health, nutrition and more.


For instance, industrial design student Regina Kazanjian originally proposed an irrigation plan to help women’s groups grow food that could, in turn, be used to feed schoolchildren, many of whom came to school in order to have something to eat. Almost immediately, she learned that irrigation was not possible due to the frequent droughts in the region.

However, she also learned of new attempts to create a better convection oven for the baking of bread, an oven with multiple, vented chambers that used a minimal amount of wood to function. If adopted widely, it promises to cut down on deforestation in the region.

In another instance, industrial design student Natasha Mehta suggested a micro-finance plan that would enable women’s groups to create craft items for later sale in the United States. That plan may become reality.

As may a project that would lead to coordinated art exhibits at UC and at Roche. The students passed out 19 disposable cameras to various residents of the Tarime region and asked the residents to document their day. They also plan to do the same here in Cincinnati. After prints from these disposable cameras are developed, the students hope to exhibit images from Roche and from Cincinnati in both locales simultaneously.

Said Zaretsky, “There’s no requirement that the students continue these projects, but several of them want to see their ideas through to completion.”