Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. Steve Jobs

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

Imagine a semester where, instead of going to four different classes, you went to your “job” at a social change start-up, spending your days collaborating with interdisciplinary faculty, peers with varied expertise, and both members of and leaders in Alamance County. Imagine you had the focused time to develop both the obvious and the creative ideas, time to test those ideas with people affected by the social issue, and time to revise and perfect your solution…or to ditch it completely and try something else.

What could you accomplish if you had an entire semester to focus on a complicated but real problem in our community? How can YOU make an impact?

The Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation is a fully immersive 16 sh program piloting in Spring 2017. (Check out or program fact sheet here.) APPLY NOW!

dt-copy“Design thinking” isn’t only for artists and graphic designers; design thinking is a process that can be implemented by anyone to understand complex problems and develop possible solutions, all while deeply caring for the people who are impacted by the problems directly. Formalized by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute for Design – the –  design thinking is a process loop that can be used to work through problems and possible solutions.



Put Your Liberal Arts Education to Work

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education posed the question, “Is design thinking the new liberal arts?” Author Peter Miller argues that design thinking moves beyond looking for answers to established questions to actually discovering the questions – “Research-as-questioning is a much freer and more playful approach to discovery.” Design in this sense isn’t necessarily about art or graphic design. As student Stuart John Urbeck said in an editorial in The Carltonian, “design thinking isn’t about creating products or companies, it’s about taking concrete steps to make our world a better place.  Isn’t that why all of us are here [at a liberal arts university]?

The combination of a liberal arts education and design thinking experience transcends the boundaries of disciplines, expertise, community, and traditional academic structures to prepare you to apply creative approaches to social challenges, even as those challenges evolve and grow quickly. In the Studio, you’ll be able to learn, test, fail, revise, reflect, and adapt a set of skills, tools, and mindsets necessary to address real challenges. You’ll build up your capacity  to effect real, sustainable social change and innovation in the world, the local community, and the workplace.

Develop Real World, In-Demand Professional Skills

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 11.44.04 AMA recent study conducted by Payscale reported that manager find new graduates to be lacking in a variety of “soft skills” that will allow them to succeed in complex situations. Employers are looking for new employees with strong skills in writing, presenting, and analyzing data, but who can also develop creative ideas and follow them through, persevere in the face of failure, collaborate authentically with peers and partners, and not only solve problems but also identify and frame those problems as well.

In the Studio, you’ll develop all of these skills and more, working directly in partnership with leaders in Alamance County wellness initiatives and designing possible solutions. Your portfolio will be stocked by the end of the semester, your professional communication skills top notch, and your ability to frame problems and collaborate with others unmatched. You’ll have a truly unique experience to be able to share with future employers.