The Design Thinking Initiative’s mission is to empower the communities we belong to with design methodologies and opportunities for hands-on making that lead to responsible innovation.
We Believe in Being
Design Methodologies and Opportunities for Hands-On Making
Smith College has a long history of educating women for social change. We believe this requires responsible innovation, a process that promotes creativity and ethical considerations of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of bringing new ideas to fruition. At the design thinking initiative we are guided by design justice principles, practice human-centered design, and engage in interdisciplinary making.
A Design Justice approach to Human-Centered Design
This is a commitment to give those most affected by a challenge agency in the process of designing solutions. It is a centering of the voices too often excluded, silenced or forgotten. It is a practice of examining underlying assumptions and highlighting inequitable conditions. It is a means of making alternate futures tangible and testing new ways of operating in this world. This is a reimagining of design as a liberatory means to sustain, heal, and empower communities. It is a collaborative, cognitive and compassionate capacity for sharing knowledge, acknowledging what's working, and allowing change to emerge through the process.
What do we mean by Interdisciplinary Making?
Making is a form of learning through experimentation – where students navigate constraints, bump up against limitations, are pushed to think beyond binaries, translate the cerebral into something tangible, work through inevitable failures, learn from what is revealed by mistakes, and discover a unique sense of self-efficacy that comes with having materialized a vision. Making allows students to contextualize learning through, and between, disciplinary practices and fields of knowledge within the liberal arts. At Smith we question what kinds of making are, and have been, valued by whom and why.
The Design Thinking Initiative began as a pilot program launched in 2015 by a group of faculty from across disciplines to incorporate design methods, mindsets and practices into interdisciplinary work across new and existing classes, and to support student- and faculty-led design projects.
‘A Part of the Integrative Learning Team’
“Integrative Learning brings together multiple units at Smith College who share a mission to develop agency in Smith students and help them transform that agency into informed, purposeful action via the integration of their curricular and co-curricular experiences. This work is supported by a broader culture of curiosity, humility and reflection, which we seek to cultivate at the college. The current partners of the Integrative Learning team are the Conway Center, Design Thinking Initiative, Wurtele Center for Leadership, and Integrative and Reflective Practices.”