Who We Are

The Commission on Publicly Engaged Design  is co-chaired by James Fathers, Professor and Iris Magidson Endowed Chair of Design at Syracuse University, and Marc Norman, the 2014–15 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. 


Dr. James Fathers

Dr. Fathers entered the education sector in 1997, following 10 years as a designer in manufacturing and two years as a consultant to small and medium enterprises on innovation and design. Since then, he has put this experience into practice in learning, teaching, research and enterprise.

After joining the York St. John University faculty in 2006, Fathers was involved in the consolidation and development of the university’s design programs, helping to develop new programs in product design and an M.B.A. in design management. As head of art and design, he managed and developed the portfolio of this subject area and developed enterprise activity, providing support, facilities and mentoring for recent design graduates via DesignWorks, the university’s design-based incubator unit. He was appointed a staff governor in 2010.

Fathers’ teaching and learning activity focuses on sustainability, universal design and design in a development context. His significant research interest in socially responsible design has been developed with the delivery of a number of journal and international conference papers. His registered doctoral research has focused on the role of design education in a development context, which led to a 12-month research sabbatical to India, where he worked alongside local crafts groups to develop appropriate design training strategies to facilitate enterprise development.

Fathers holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wales, Cardiff, and a B.A. from South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education in Cardiff, Wales. He is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).


Marc Norman Headshot
Marc Norman

Marc Norman has dedicated his career to finding remedies to inequality and promoting economic development and social justice through innovative financial strategies paired with community development and design. As director of UPSTATE, a Center for Design Research and Real Estate at Syracuse University School of Architecture, he supports mechanisms that reduce the cost of housing, expand access to education and employment opportunities and promote health.

With a background in real estate development and mortgage banking, Norman works with architects and housing and transportation professionals to capture the best practices from multiple fields to achieve supportive integrative neighborhoods. He helped shift the debate on Interstate 81 from expanding an obsolete highway to repairing the urban fabric, and he has shown how meeting the needs of prison re-entry populations can be good for the entire community. He has also shown how applying ecological design to manage storm water can also invigorate a neighborhood, and he teaches students and practitioners to deploy their design skills and secure financing in service of social goals.

One thought on “Who We Are”

  1. Hello wonderful people~ Serendipity led me to you! Actually perhaps Divine intervention! Thank you for all you do to better our world. There’s a “project” that’s been rumbling around my heart for 3 years now- a dream that just won’t leave me alone. I am a nurse by trade, but creative at heart. Vacant historic school in this community would be a tremendous asset as a vibrant business hub/coworking environment, multipurpose learning center/open creativityor something similar. Here’s what I need from you- I am not skilled in business or strategic planning,etc. I have the creative vision, passion and boundless energy, but wrestle with formulating a viable, sustainable financial/business plan. I am aware of SCORE, local colleges, etc. Wondered if you were familiar with any type mentoring services that might deal specifically with Creative Placemaking Business planning. Looking at a Benefit Corporation model rather than Nonprofit so as to maximize our Social Good and all the accompanies a Benefit Corporation entity. We are in the Green Bay ,WI area. Thank you for any thoughts, ideas, suggestions. Happy to provide more detail or information if you want to know more! Looking forward to your reply. Deeply grateful! Lori Marie Cuene

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