Human-Centered Design

Co-Director: Michelle Janning, Sociology

Co-Director: Justin Lincoln, Art

Sharon Alker, English

William Bares, Computer Science

Janet Davis, Computer Science

Sarah Hurlburt, French and Francophone Studies

Daniel Schindler, Theater

 

About the Concentration

The concentration in Human-Centered Design provides a framework within which students can learn and apply design thinking to problems across disciplines. Design thinking involves methods and approaches that increase intellectual flexibility and comfort with ambiguity and define and frame issues in ways that allow for a broad array of solutions. Students of Human-Centered Design experiment with prototypes and artifacts, create iteratively, collaborate within teams, interpret and respond to many forms of data and above all attend to the process of design as well as the end product.

Human-Centered Design is guided by principles of belonging, inclusivity, and empathy and works to help students respond to essential human and non-human needs that are embedded in unequal and unjust systems and structures. HCD focuses on understanding and creating aesthetic, usable, accessible, and sustainable artifacts, grounded in ethical practices and interrogated within historical, aesthetic, environmental, technological, and cultural contexts. Students learn to be catalysts in the fields of their choice through application of these principles and ultimately design a project portfolio that allows them to synthesize the relationship between their primary major, relevant courses across the curriculum, and their studies in design, as well as showcase their work at Whitman for their lives beyond.

Learning Goals

Students who complete a concentration in Human-Centered Design at Whitman College will be able to:

  • Understand design thinking, the ubiquity of design, and human-centered design.
  • Create an artifact through ethical, sustainable, and inclusive design using ethical design research methods.
  • Critically examine complex social, aesthetic, and environmental contexts, injustices, and inequalities that impact, and are impacted by, the design process.
  • Collaborate effectively through engagement with varied audiences.
  • Relate design thinking to communities and organizations where it would be practiced.

Programs of Study

Courses

Credits 4

Students will learn core concepts of design thinking and a suite of design tools that can be applied across disciplinary boundaries, gaining experience through studio exercises and a substantial collaborative design project addressing a specific context of use and considering the full range of stakeholders. Students completing this course will be prepared to select Deepening Courses, seek a Collaborative Practical Experience, and begin to envision their eventual design portfolio. Students will be assessed based on reflective writing and discussion as well as their presentation of a collaborative project. Juniors and Seniors will be enrolled by consent only. Offered once per semester.

Credits 1 Max Credits 4

A course which examines special topics in human-centered design at the introductory level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Credits 4

Students will learn how to collect and analyze qualitative and/or quantitative data from people that will inform their designs. Methods covered will be chosen from among the following: survey, interview, participatory design, experiments, and/or observation, as well as specific methods within HCD. Topics include research ethics and IRB, timing and stages of data gathering and interpretation, and strategies to figure out the best type of input to gather, and the best method to use, in order to inform a design. This course is not required, but is recommended to fulfill this Deepening area, especially for students not already taking other courses listed here in their majors or minors.

Prerequisite Courses
Credits 1 Max Credits 4

A course which examines special topics in human-centered design at the introductory level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Credits 1 Max Credits 4

A course which examines special topics in human-centered design at the introductory level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Credits 1 Max Credits 4

Independently planned reading or study in an area of Human-Centered Design of interest to the student, under the supervision of a faculty member. Open only to students in the Human-Centered Design concentration.

Prerequisites

Human-Centered Design 101; and consent of instructor.

Credits 1 Max Credits 4

A course which examines special topics in human-centered design at the introductory level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Credits 1 Max Credits 4

Independently planned Human-Centered Design project, developed by the student under the supervision of a faculty member. Beyond the designed artifact(s) and design process documentation, the project will include a written reflection appropriate for the student's design portfolio.

Prerequisites

Human-Centered Design 101; and junior or senior standing; and consent of instructor.

Credits 4

This seminar/studio will be co-taught by a faculty member and a visiting Designer in Residence, with guest lectures or modules offered by other faculty participating in the Human-Centered Design concentration. Students will interpret and integrate what they learned in the Deepening Courses and the Collaborative Practical Experience, consider professional issues in design, and develop a design portfolio. Students will connect their curricular and co-curricular experience, exploring empathy, ethics, collaboration, reciprocity, and organizational culture in communities and organizations where human-centered design is practiced. Students will be evaluated based on presentations and reflective writing, including the final portfolio. Offered once per year.

Prerequisites

Human-Centered Design 101; and completion of the Collaborative Practical Experience; and consent of instructor.