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Design Thinking Program

To make an impact in the world and be effective in their careers, students need to graduate as confident and creative thinkers who can work in teams. Each department at the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) provides a breadth of coursework on the process of design thinking as well as classes that incorporate the empathy-based process. These along with other design thinking offerings at UW-Madison fit a range of personal interests and career paths.

Design thinking allows our students to impact their worlds in powerful ways. Read how some students have engaged with design thinking in their studies at SoHE.

Master of Science in Design + Innovation (MDI)

Solve big social problems through a creative lens. MDI’s dynamic program was created for designers, entrepreneurs, strategists, innovations leaders, and others looking to be successful collaborators.

work on aThree students work on a harvest basket prototype

Certificate in Design Strategy

Use proven design thinking techniques to solve real-world problems while exploring the many ways people connect to their environments.

UW faculty member talks with student

SoHE Design Thinking Courses

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Design Studies (DS)

Consumer Science (CNSR SCI)

CNSR SCI 173 — Consuming Happiness
CNSR SCI 201 — Consumer Research & Analysis
CNSR SCI 255 — Consumer Financial Services Innovation
CNSR SCI 301 — Advanced Consumer Analytics
CNSR SCI 555 — Consumer Strategy and Evaluation
CNSR SCI 657 — Consumer Behavior

Community Studies (CSCS)

Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)

Other UW-Madison Courses

What is Design Thinking?

Simply put, design thinking is a method for finding solutions that uses an empathetic, human-centered approach.

Design thinking techniques enhance creative analysis to solve real-world problems with real-world constraints. Big problems like student mental health awareness, lack of clean drinking water, and strategies for reducing the stresses of social and physical distancing are design thinking’s domain.

As one of the center’s pillars, we actively promote design thinking on campus and world-wide: