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DSGN 470: Equity-Centered Design Research

Quarter Offered

Fall : 1st 5 weeks, Sec 1: Tuesdays, 8:30-11:30am, OR Sec 2: Tuesdays, 1:30-4:30pm; ITW Classroom ; Kelly Costello and Tony Bynum


This course can only accommodate MMM students.


This course builds upon the survey level design thinking course, Research Design Build (RDB), and its foundational elements of design research. Equity-Centered Design Research will go in depth on the topic of Equity-Centered Design, (ECD). Students will be introduced to tools, methods, and approaches to ECD as they build on Human-Centered Design practice. The learning objective of this course is to establish a foundation for human centered design and innovation based on insight gleaned through the lens of research methods. Students will be expected to apply advanced design research methods that push beyond the initial principles of human-centered design - intentionally focusing on understanding, framing, and building more equitable and inclusive products, services, systems, and experiences.

In this course, students will more deeply explore power dynamics, solutions for social impact, research methods, and co-creation approaches that bring diverse voices into the development of solutions. Through the utilization of equity-centered design tools, frameworks, case studies and exercises, students will leverage a hybrid innovation approach to develop skills and expertise that directly and thoughtfully translate into strategic decision making for hybrid innovators in business, entrepreneurship, non-profit and government settings. 

Throughout the 5 sessions, students will be expected to make critical assessments on the effectiveness of traditional design research methods and their limitations in developing truly equitable solutions. This class will build on the student’s previous experience and advanced knowledge of design research methods and will be expected to assess their limitations and demonstrate confidence in modifying their application to accommodate the equity differences of users.

Key topics include:

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