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.
Certificate in Design Strategy
Use proven design thinking techniques to solve real-world problems while exploring the many ways people connect to their environments.
SoHE Design Thinking Courses
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Design Studies (DS)
DS 120 — Design Fundamentals I
DS 130 — Introduction to Interior Architecture
DS 221 — Person and Environment Interactions
DS 264 — Dimensions of Material Culture
DS 270 — Design and Fashion Event Practicum
DS 341 — Design Thinking for Transformation
DS 361 — Design-Related International Experience
DS/COMPSCI/I SY E 518 — Wearable Technology
DS 527 — Global Artisans
DS 570 — Design and Fashion Event Management
DS/COMPSCI 579 — Virtual Reality
DS 639 — Culture and Built Environment
DS 641 — Advanced Design Thinking for Transformation
Consumer Science (CNSR SCI)
Community Studies (CSCS)
Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS)
HDFS 425 — Research Methods in Human Development and Family Studies
HDFS 465 — Families and Poverty
HDFS 469 — Family and Community Influences On the Young Child
HDFS 474 — Racial Ethnic Families in the US
HDFS 516 — Family Stress and Resilience Across the Lifespan
HDFS 592 — Research Experience in Human Development and Family Studies
Other UW-Madison Courses
ANTHRO 104 — Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity
ANTHRO 300 — Cultural Anthropology: Theory and Ethnography
ANTHRO 415 — The Anthropological Study of Children & Youth
ART 364 — Basic Graphic Design
ART 448 — Digital Storytelling
BSE 270 — Introduction to Computer Aided Design
COM ARTS 155 — Introduction to Digital Media Production
COM ARTS 200 — Introduction to Digital Communication
COM ARTS 260 — Communication and Human Behavior
COM ARTS 325 — Media and Human Behavior
IS 523 — International Internship
LANDARC 210 — Introduction to Landscape Architecture Design
LANDARC 563 — Designing Sustainable and Resilient Regions
LIS 202 — Informational Divides and Differences In A Multicultural Society
LIS 351 — Introduction to Digital Information
ME 351 — Interdisciplinary Experiential Design Projects I
THEATRE 234 — Collaborative Problem Solving
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:
- Hosting related programming in collaboration with our fellows, affiliates and students
- Heading the operations of the design thinking working group, a Stanford d. school trained team that seeks applications within UW–Madison
- Managing the new Dorothy O’Brien Innovation Lab on the second floor of Nancy Nicholas Hall
- Supporting faculty, students and program connected to School of Human Ecology’s Certificate in Design Strategy and the Master of Science in Design + Innovation