winter sun

winter sun

Friday, April 9, 2010


I have a problem. Interestingly, I think Design Thinking can solve it! I came to discover both the problem and the solution while thinking about another problem (of course).

I read with interest the proposal for a a new program in the college [edited to protect those involved]. This is the parallel of my EXACT difficulty of getting my "interdisciplinary" dissertation focused enough while producing a thorough record of the literature:

"Currently, graduate students wishing to specialize in [the major] must do so by taking a concentration of courses or a minor in Human Factors, and majoring in some other related discipline such as Psychology, Cognitive Science, Industrial Engineering, Kinesiology, or Design. While this works for some students, many have expressed great dissatisfaction with this arrangement, finding that all of these programs require too much concentration in areas outside their interest with insufficient time to focus on their real interest of [_].

A number of graduate students have become discouraged for all the reasons above, and failed to complete their degrees, while other perspective graduate students with a primary interest in [_] have failed to come to the [school], even when full financial support was offered, because of the lack of a [_] degree program (see letter below). Others choose other Universities in the region that do have [_] programs..."

I keep thinking about the connection of "design" with "humans" as being the bigger picture of my (dissertation) investigation.

The foregoing quote exemplifies that there is indeed a greater need than my own. It seems that ALL design areas need a section of courses that might be defined as "Human Studies in Design (and Design Research?)". Design needs to clearly differentiate all of the human psychosocial components (ie development, cognitive psychology, social, emotional, experiential design, learning, aesthetics, motivation, trust, etc) [in addition to all the specialties of practice].

Design has yet to establish its own body of knowledge in regard to its related disciplines. What I mean is: How do all of these specialty areas, e.g. psychology, etc., apply in a "design" framework--how should designers consider these factors and what do they mean to designers? Were a selection of courses developed, these could be incorporated into existing programs or begin to be substituted as a minor emphasis college-wide. Or, these issues could formulate a fantastic opportunity for an applied research lab, where students could get credit for participating in conducting design research studies.