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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions


Design Immersion: Exploring Interior, Graphic, and Product Design

Dates: June 24-July 15, 2017 (3 weeks)
Credits: 3 credits
Eligibility: current juniors, seniors
(see eligibility requirements)
Status: This program is full but we are accepting applications for the wait list.


If you've had a building leave you speechless, drawn more sketches than you can count, or saved packaging because it was just too beautiful to throw away, then your design literacy may be stronger than you realize.

This three-week design immersion program, taught by Casey Franklin in Cornell's Department of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA), will introduce you to how designers think, solve problems, and improve our world.

Working in cutting-edge, Ivy League facilities, you will gain

  • a theoretical framework for design,
  • practical experience solving design problems that are a part of our everyday life,
  • experience with the newest digital design tools,
  • a chance to explore how the creative problem-solving process is similar in a variety of design disciplines and scales—including interior, graphic, product, and industrial design—and delve into the social issues that inform these processes, and
  • an understanding of how design can be applied to help solve social issues.

To build your design skills, you'll participate in hands-on workshops and digital explorations, considering design problems ranging from small graphics and product issues to large, spatial challenges.

You'll learn how to build study models, work as an individual designer or in a group, and manage your time. You'll also discover whether you're more at home with hand sketching or computer visualizations.

The design projects you'll complete are intended to be portfolio-worthy, and during the program you'll work towards building your own portfolio suitable for future college applications.

In addition to spending time in the studio, you'll take field trips to local offices to see designers in action, analyze some of the hallmarks of contemporary architecture during visits to LEED-certified buildings by Richard Meier and Rem Koolhaas, and enjoy excursions to local natural areas, where you'll build structures using only natural materials. You’ll also visit the archives of famous designers to learn about design process, the Rochester Museum of Play to learn about interactive exhibitions, and the Johnson Museum to experience hands-on print making.

By studying design precedents, such as iconic chairs from Cornell's collections and "green" materials from the DEA library, you'll get up-close-and-personal with the elements that constitute both timeless design and forward-thinking innovation.

Together with other students and DEA faculty, you'll immerse yourself in the history, theory, and practice of design, see how architects and designers are reducing the negative impacts of building construction and energy use, and become a part of the process of creating new knowledge about human behavior and design practice. You'll also learn how design professionals can help to build a more sustainable, socially responsible future for our world.

Finally, to help you prepare for a possible future in design, admission staff will offer a seminar about the college application process, and you'll have a chance to meet with DEA faculty to learn about design career possibilities.

Course expectations

Students will be expected to:

  • manipulate materials to create models that explore lighting effects,
  • prepare for lectures by completing out-of-class reading,
  • learn how to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign with the help of tutorials and instructors in DEA’s computer labs, and
  • work in groups to design, install, and host an opening party of your work in the DEA Gallery.


You'll be enrolled in the three-credit course Design Generation(s) (DEA 1100).

This course meets Mondays through Fridays, 9:00 a.m.–noon and 1:00–5:00 p.m.

Maximum enrollment: 24

Note: You may combine this program with The Fashion Studio or any other three-week 2 program to create a six-week Dual Program.

Required textbooks and materials

Title Author Cost
Rapid Viz: A New Method for the Rapid Visualization of Ideas, 3rd Edition Kurt Hanks and Larry Belliston (Thomson Course Technology 2006) $20.89
Papter Sculpture: Fluid Forms Richard Sweeney $TBD
Design supply kit created for this program NA $TBD
Course Packet NA $TBD

These titles and materials will be available at The Cornell Store.

Special scheduling


  • Tuesday, July 4: In observance of Independence Day, we will not have classes.
  • Monday, July 10: College Admissions Workshop, 2:30–3:45 p.m.
  • Friday, July 14: Design Show and Graduation Ceremony, 3:00–5:00 p.m., DEA Gallery, 1250 MVR.


Students and their families are cordially invited to an informal graduation during the DEA Gallery Opening at approximately 4:30 p.m. Students will each receive a Cornell University Summer College certificate and be able to take farewell photos with their friends and faculty. Note that attendance is not required, but is highly recommended and is a nice way to conclude the program. Dress is smart casual.

Checkout dates and times

Before making travel plans, review the checkout dates and times for your program. We strictly adhere to these deadlines.

Program director

Casey Franklin

The first day of kindergarten, Casey loved school so much she asked to spend the night. Many years later, she still loves spending her time at school learning and helping others learn about how design can transform our world.

After graduating with a bachelor of architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Casey worked in Chicago as an architectural designer and led development and training as a project manager. She returned to school to research green technology, and graduated with a master's degree in architectural research from the University of Kansas. From there she went on to work internationally as a design consultant for user experience and design strategy projects at a startup and an award-winning design firm.

Casey is a current doctoral student in Human Behavior and Design within the department of Design and Environmental Analysis. Her research investigates how smartphone applications can work in combination with interior design to help us act more sustainably. She loves making complicated information easy to understand, making learning fun, and helping students become lifelong learners who are capable of harnessing the power of design to make our world a better place.

Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA) at Cornell

DEA: Exploring Sustainable Design

Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), who lectured at Cornell on April 5, 2012, commends Cornell for embracing the future and the DEA program as a "living laboratory" for students.

Student experiences

"I grew so much socially and learned how to manage my time and balance my course work and social life while living without my family." — Emerson Lawton, 2016

"I learned a lot about design, architecture, and all three forms of design (product, packaging, and digital), but I also learned a lot about living with other people and being a good and helpful individual in a community like Cornell University. " — Koloina Rasamoely, 2015

"My professors and TA were the bomb. I loved Rhonda and Pete as professors because they were so passionate about what they were teaching, and I loved Casey as our TA because she had gone through what we were experiencing basically and could relate to us." — Abby Tremel, 2015

"INCREDIBLE!! Totally enjoyed it and had a fabulous time. Thought it was the perfect course for anyone going into design." — 2011 Summer College grad

"The course was a prefect blend of getting a chance to work individually as well in groups. It allowed us to experience the application of design apart from learning the theoretical aspects. I honestly loved everything about this class." — Aneesha Reddy

Student blogs