Omidyar Network Interdependence Project:  A Design Exploration


Design research / Design for social value

Interdependence Project is a 4-week design research project investigating how to reveal, amplify, and foster healthy patterns of social interdependence through design interventions.


SVA Products of Design and the Omidyar Network collaborated for four weeks during the summer of 2018. The initiative colloquially referred to as the' Interdependence Project', harnessed the capacities of design to address one of society’s most pressing challenges of the moment: our increasingly polarized personal and political landscape.





Collaboration between Omidyar Network and MFA Products of Design, School of Visual Arts
Led by Jennifer Rittner
July 2018

Published book

For more details of our research and 15 interventions please flip through our published compilation book below. 



In a world that is increasingly interconnected and interdependent, we are also experiencing growing polarization, racism, tribalism and fragmentation.
These are worrying because recent history has taught us that the eventual fruits of these trends invariably lead to an increase in violence, oppression and the weakening of the fabric of civilization. How might we create a society where:



a) All citizens recognize and value our interdependence (mindsets)


b) Citizens develop the capacities needed to manage and flourish in diverse and complex communities (capabilities)


c) The ethics of interdependence cultivates compassion, solidarity and trustworthiness and encourages all citizens to act in the long-term interests of society (norms

Primary research

Since the context for our design initiatives was so broad, we were relieved to have a clearly defined target audience to help constrain and frame our interventions. This target opportunity, defined as emerging adults, 15-25 years old, who are not college-bound, made available to us a community in which to conduct our initial research.

Our team conducted individual arranged interviews, a public intercept intervention and a group workshop as a means to hear from target users.

As part of primary research, we developed 4 mapping worksheets, along with question prompts, to facilitate the conversation around interconnectedness, community, comfort zones, and influences in our lives to enhance the research process.

Omidyar Network provided a host of white papers they co-authored as a jumping off point. Additionally, our team dove into a wide range of readings from Toni Morrison's evaluation of 'othering', to Kwame Anthony Appiah's philosophical interrogation of one's identity, to author George Orwell's assessment of nationalism, and contemporary works on pluralism. Our readings included academic papers, essays, articles, and books.

Subject matter interviews

We had the privilege of speaking with colleagues and thought leaders -including design researchers, design strategists, anthropologists, writers - who shared their own observations and hopes for interdependence as they encounter these questions in their work.


Guiding Goals and Design Principles

Secondary research

To drive our design thinking forward and apply our research to proposals, we and created a set of 5 goals with accompanying design principles.


Design Proposals

The team proposed 15 design interventions for Omidyar Network's review, structured from the proposals that intervene on the individual/microscale to those proposals that have the potential for macro/structural change.

Please review the proposals in more detail within the compilation book below.