SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011





(212) 592-2228

Awareness – SVA MA Design Research

Joseph Ramsawak


According to Elaine Scarry, to “conceive of the body as ‘aliveness’ or ‘awareness of aliveness’ is to reside at last within the felt-experience of sentience.” Although it sounds like a simple concept, it is not one that comes naturally to all who are, in fact, alive. Talking about the notion that we are alive calls attention to the very fact, but how often are we aware of this aliveness in the course of our everyday lives?


I begin every day with the same series of thoughts. I say good morning to myself, and recall that I am indeed alive. I take a minute to feel my hands from within. I flex my fingers, and do the same with my feet. I round my ankles because I have arthritis, and feel the blood flow in the tips of my toes. This practice of awareness sets the tone for my day. I roll over and plant my feet on solid ground, and begin to take inventory of my body:


“Joe, are you groggy?” “Are you hydrated?” “Are you hungry?” “How’s the bladder?” And I set out to bring my physical self into balance before I have to be somewhere.


This practicing of awareness is a life tip I picked up in bibliotherapy–from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, which has taught me a great deal about engaging the landscape of life while cultivating awareness in your every step.

Whenever stress sets in, I pull myself out of the narrative of life, become aware of my thoughts, and remember that I’m not my thoughts, but rather the awareness behind it. That’s me, alive. I strongly advocate for this practice.