student work posted on a studio wall

Experience Design Theory Courses

Theory + Context Studios: Applies theory from the social sciences, communication, design, and philosophy to inform context awareness and new ways of approaching problems. Theory is contextualized through the creation of design outcomes.

Topical Studios: Concepts including systemic design and designing for access are examined and practiced through the creation of a range of design outcomes via project work.

Systemic Design | ART 625

Explores and applies theory and methods for exploring complex “wicked problems” at a systemic level. Primary and secondary research is conducted in order to more clearly define real and perceived factors inherent in complex areas of need. A systemic approach is practiced via projects that consider a wide range of stakeholders from social good initiatives to industry innovation.

Learners will be able to:

  • Develop effective design solutions that align diverse stakeholder interests.
  • Produce mappings that result in a clarification of real and perceived systemic problem components.
  • Facilitate mapping exercises that enable discussion and definition of systemic problem components.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of theory and methods for addressing complex problems at a systemic level.

Studio courses emphasize learning through work on problem-based projects. This work involves iterative design processes where the creation of outcomes and ensuing critique from students and instructors facilitate learning. Examples of work that takes place in this course are in the table below.

Details about what work will happen in this class.
Concept Activity Tools & Media Processes Outcomes
Visualize highly complex systems to clarify components Assess an assigned system (healthcare, sports franchises, etc.) and develop maps that faithfully represent many levels of stakeholders Adobe Illustrator, drawing tools, PDF & image files, photographs, whiteboard drawings (physical and digital)

video documentation, color for designating categories, taxonomy, spatial relationships of content, critique

GIGA-map, photo documentation, process book, designed report PDF/book, paper
Developing systemic design solutions Create a systemic solution for a highly complex social issue Adobe Illustrator, drawing tools, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Presentation Software, Video Editing Software ideation, observations, interviews, sketches, data coding, taxonomy, color for designating categories, critique, drawing, comps Kickstarter-type video, designed report PDF/book, process book, experience map, GIGA-map

Design Research Theory | ART 651

Explores both theoretical and pragmatic approaches to aid the identification, evaluation, application, and development of systems for addressing ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ problems. Addresses the evaluation and formulation of design problems with both human and non-human factors by applying theory from a wide range of disciplines.

Learners will be able to:

  • Identify and analyze overt and covert sociotechnical systems.
  • Apply a wide range of disciplinary and paradigmatic problem-solving approaches.
  • Apply systemic and systematic approaches for addressing problems.
  • Develop, design, and test complex sociotechnical systems.
  • Recall communication and behavioral theories related to design.

Studio courses emphasize learning through work on problem-based projects. This work involves iterative design processes where the creation of outcomes and ensuing critique from students and instructors facilitate learning. Examples of work that takes place in this course are in the table below.

Details about what work will happen in this class.
Concept Activity Tools & Media Processes Outcomes
Explore theories through visualization Create a taxonomic visualization of communication and behavioral theories Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, drawing tools, Adobe Photoshop secondary research, ideation, sketches, comps, critique poster, process book
Apply theories to a phenomenon through design Create a complex design system of services and artifacts to impact an assigned issue (e.g. a new cafeteria restaurant) Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign ideation, secondary research, sketches, material studies, comps, critique, color and texture studies, culture study, use patterns study mockups, experience map, presentation board, process book, brand guidelines

A History of Design | ART 555

Overview of the history and cultural context of various design disciplines. Exploration of the impact of social, political, technical factors on the theory, production, and reception of design through an examination of the design artifacts and designers.

Learners will be able to:

  • Name influential design ideas, people, outcomes, and movements.
  • Analyze design outcome's formal, functional, conceptual, and aspirational qualities.
  • Identify ways design outcomes are influenced by a wide range of real and perceived factors.
  • Identify ways design outcomes influence other designs, designers, culture, and behavior.
  • Apply a range of theories to explain ways design has influenced and is influenced by real and perceived factors.

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