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SU, SUNY Upstate to collaborate on new methods for improving medical communication

October 21, 2010

Erica Blust
(315) 443-5891

Conceiving and creating new methods for improving communication in medical contexts will be the goal when design students from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) team up with medical students from SUNY Upstate Medical University for an intensive, three-day brainstorming and design session Oct. 22-24. The session, known as a charrette, will be hosted and facilitated by COLAB, VPA’s collaboration laboratory.

The public is invited to attend the students’ final presentations, which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 2:30 p.m. at the Warehouse Auditorium, first floor, The Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., Syracuse. Free parking is available in the Warehouse East lot (East Washington Street entrance).

The beginning of the charrette will involve a strong introduction to medical communication from medical, communication and design experts, and will require students to quickly acquire competence in issues pertaining to the topic. Students will spend time listening to short lectures from the panel of experts, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Using this information and their personal experiences with medical care interactions, the students will then form small groups to start the intensive charrette process, which lasts two full days and involves brainstorming, drafting and prototyping concepts. This process consists of three segments: idea mining (generating ideas), idea sorting (grouping ideas into related categories) and idea growing (identifying and developing the best ideas).

Students will be guided by COLAB instructors at each stage of the process. Once a group has settled on an idea, it will quickly create a prototype version, which must be formally presented to the class. Upstate Medical University, which initiated the charrette, will use the final results as a basis for further exploration.

Faculty sponsors of the charrette are Andrea Manyon, professor and chair of family medicine at Upstate Medical University, and Keith M. Murphy, assistant professor of VPA’s Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies and COLAB. Murphy and COLAB instructors Chris McCray and Shoham Arad will provide continuous instruction, guidance and verbal feedback throughout the weekend. They will also serve as the evaluators of the final presentations.

For more information about the charrette, visit or contact Carlota Deseda-Coon of COLAB at (315) 443-1476 or

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