Contemporary Uses of Design Thinking Across Society, Work, and the Individual

By Cindy Beacham and Neal Shambaugh.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Design is often viewed through a discipline-specific lens such as interior design, instructional design, architecture, graphic design, or fashion design. As a result, design has historically been identified as an activity exclusively for professionals who have moved from novices to experts in their specific design fields. Society values and depends on these professionals, however twenty-first century realities call for increased participation from everyone to improve their world. Part of this participation is ethical, involving people directly in decision-making, rather than delegating to professionals and governments. Participation is also pragmatic in that informed people are motivated to reassume responsibility. Design is a human activity that continually seeks to answer the question “how can I make it better?” Supporting individuals in understanding their ability to participate in the design dialogue and exploring options for “making it better” through design thinking provides a foundation for interdisciplinary examination and integrated, systems-based decision-making. The paper examines design thinking through current literature comparing different views and identifying their implications. We then discuss methods to help people understand the design thinking process, how such thinking relates to their needs, and ways to apply these ideas and processes. By fully understanding and implementing design thinking, people can make the connection between their needs in the 21st century and their abilities to meet those needs as both informed citizens and responsive designers.

Keywords: Design, Design Thinking, Design Management, Design Studies, Metadesign, Innovation, Sustainability, Socially Responsive Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.337-348. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 821.521KB).

Dr. Cindy Beacham

Associate Professor, Interior Design and Design Studies, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

Cindy Beacham is a designer with a Ph.D. in Child Development. She has a strong academic and professional background in interior design and project/construction management, and much of her design focus has been on developmentally appropriate design for children. Her broader design mission is to help designers and others understand and articulate the value of design and design thinking in their lives and in today’s culture.

Dr. Neal Shambaugh

Associate Professor, Department of Technology, Learning, & Culture, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

I have been a radio announcer, training program consultant, and video producer. I have taught in higher education for 15 years. My teaching areas include educational psychology, instructional technology, and teacher education. My research interests include novice problem solving, instructional design, and visual literacy. I am the co-author of two books on instructional design.


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