Design Forge

Elon Community

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Design Forge is Elon’s annual convening of design thinking educators, practitioners, and thought leaders. Each year, Design Forge addresses a topic of interest to higher education, strengthens collaboration in the design thinking community, and searches for new opportunities for design thinking to enhance student learning.

Design Forge is a hybrid/hyflex, interactive, and collaborative convening designed to support your efforts to cultivate educational design opportunities that foster well-being.

The goal? Like in prior years, we spent time together exploring the how-might-we question in an environment that is part design and part convening, launching new relationships and generating questions, resources, ideas, and frameworks that advance the value and impact of design thinking practices.

March 13-15 Hybrid Overview Schedule

Forge Community Session – Embodied Wisdom: Catalyzing Social Change

In-person March 13th from 5-8 pm at the Elon Community Church
Featuring Savannah Keith Gress & Victor Udoewa
Sometimes our best efforts to solve group, organizational, societal, and systemic challenges result in unaffected, worsening, or temporarily resolved problems. We usually rely on individual analysis and strategic thinking using mainstream, institutional knowledge sources. What if we were to access the wealth of other types of knowledges in the world around us: aesthetic, intuitive, emotional, spiritual, relational, energetic, communal, lived experiential, embodied, etc.? There are a number of practices, both old and new, that explore these other types of knowledge by creating awareness and using intention to act. Join the Elon and Alamance community in exploring the rich wisdom of our shared stories and collective embodied knowledge. This interactive session will help participants imagine opportunities to create social change and craft a strategic path forward.
This event is sponsored by the Power and Place Collaborative, the 2024 Design Forge, Impact Alamance, and the North Carolina Humanities (a statewide nonprofit and the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities).

Thursday, March 14, 2024

9:00-5:00 pm EST

Opening Keynote with Rafe Steinhauer & Andrea Mecquel 

Futures Therapy for Designers workshop with Raja Schaar 

Stories and Strategies with Ting Zhou, & Tyson Glover

Questionspeak with Alden Burke

HealthEU Keynote with Shanice Webb

Friday, March 15, 2023

9:00-3:30 pm EST

Stories and Strategies with Tamie Glass, Cennydd Bowles, & Wayne Li

Relational Design with Victor Udoewa & Savannah Gress Keith

HCD Toolkit for Doing with Dawn Bohn & Saadeddine Shehab

Trauma-informed Digital Design with Liz Chen and Melissa Eggleston

Closing Keynote: Designing with & for Joy with Eugene Korsunskiy

Forging YOUR wellness with HealthEU (in-person attendees)
March 14 4:00 – 5:00


2024 Forge Facilitators

Keynote Speakers

Rafe Steinhauer & Andrea Mecquel

Opening Keynote: Designing in, with, & for Bodies
March 14 9:00 – 10:00 am

How might harnessing awareness of our innate bodily sensory system, interoception, help us design and educate towards greater equity and fuller human-centeredness? This system, whether we are conscious of it or not, is already shaping our decisions and experiences; thus, how might learning to observe and interpret it give us truer choices and more freedom. After a brief introduction to interoception and its potential applications in design and in higher education, Andrea Mecquel and Rafe Steinhauer will lead the group through a series of experiences that will serve as a brief glimpse into how centering the body, and all bodies, in our work is of paramount importance if we are to co-create honest–and equitable–objects, spaces, cultures and experiences.

Shanice Webb

Day One HealthEU Keynote: Design for Belonging
March 14 2:30 – 4:00 pm

Embark on a 90-minute design sprint that will unlock the potential of design thinking to foster spaces of connection and belonging. As students, faculty, staff, and administrators, you have the power to shape environments that bring people together, spark meaningful interactions, and cultivate a sense of belonging. This hands-on Design Forge keynote experience will guide you through the essential steps of design thinking, enabling you to take one small action step for designing connection and inclusivity in your spaces.

Eugene Korsunskiy

Closing Keynote: Designing with & for Joy
March 15 2:15 – 3:30 pm

Why does it sometimes feel that “fun,” “delight,” and “play” are dirty words in academia? The culture of higher education seems to be built on the idea that joy and rigor are incompatible, and that joy does not belong in a “serious” place of study. Let’s buck that notion! We know that we do our best work when we’re having fun, and that our students learn best when they’re having fun. In this session, we’ll explore practical ways to integrate joy into our projects, inspiring students and fostering creativity. We’ll explore the power of playfulness to create transformative learning experiences, bringing joy to our classrooms, teams, and personal projects to make design education even more delightful!

Day One: Thursday, March 14

Raja Schaar

Futures Therapy for Designers
March 14 10:15 – 11:00 am

This interactive session begins by giving voice to our shared anxieties over the future: From our own health, to the economy, climate change, AI, professional practice, and more. Attendees will engage in mindfulness strategies and discussion-based design methods in order to generate insights and strategies for the future.

Alden Burke

Questionspeak: Developing a new language for creative exercises
March 14 1:30 – 2:00 pm

How do we, as designers and educators, frame the creative capacity of questions? A language in themselves, questions are a fundamental part of design. They are puzzles, invitations, portals, and possibilities, opening up space that was once hidden in the concretized structure of statements. In this session, we’ll take a fresh look at the basic forms of prompt writing, exploring their capacity for more connected and creative relationships. In doing so, might we (re)consider fundamental ways of relating, creating, and questioning, together?

Day Two: Friday, March 15

Victor Udoewa & Savannah Keith Gress

Relational Design
March 15 10:30 – 11:15 am

Relational Design has many meanings—designing in, with, or for relationships. However, the design methodologies often remain unchanged. What if relational design meant relationship-building itself? How can relationship-building be an act of designing? Learn about experiences of Relational Design and join the conversation about what it means to design and to relate.

Dawn Bohn & Saadeddine Shehab

Prototyping a Human-Centered Design Toolkit for Doing Well and Doing Good
March 15 11:30 am – 12:15 pm

This session gives participants a chance to explore and adapt a unique Human-Centered Instructional Toolkit that encourages students to “Do Well and Do Good.” The toolkit was originally created to support student efforts to develop food products that support the well-being of unique populations and has been adapted to support additional projects. Participants will explore potential applications of the toolkit for their own workspaces and examine ways to evolve it for future iterations.

Liz Chen & Melissa Eggleston

Trauma-Informed Digital Design
March 15 1:30 – 2:00 pm

As educators, how might we design engagement opportunities with digital technologies that cultivate well-being? This stories and strategies session provides a systematic review of trauma-informed design best practices for digital interventions that support the health and well-being of users, especially those who have already experienced some sort of trauma.

Stories and Strategies I Speakers

Ting Zhou

Cultivating Student Well-being through Designing for Mental Well-being
March 14 11:40 am – 12:05 pm

This story and strategy session explores what might happen when we provide students with opportunities to design mental health and well-being projects in our courses. Analysis of initial efforts have shown that such opportunities allow students to not only uncover valuable tools for promoting mental health but also complete meaningful design projects and cultivate a culture of care. Effective strategies and potential challenges will be outlined.

Tyson Glover

Shifting Mindsets: Creating Spaces for Flourishing in Failure
March 14 12:05 – 12:30 pm

Imagine spaces where failure is an option. Innovation requires risk-taking and failure is the quickest way to learn and improve. Virginia Commonwealth University has reimagined design and entrepreneurship education with failure at the forefront. Its Shift Retail Lab was a winner of 2023’s Innovation By Design Award. VCU’s Shift Retail Lab provides an important space to test ideas through feedback. This alternative space offers a lab-type approach for creative thinkers and doers from a wide range of backgrounds to put their ideas into action. Lessons learned and action-oriented takeaways will be highlighted as we create the classroom of the future!

Stories and Stragies II Speakers

Tamie Glass

Designing With and For Wellness
March 15 9:00 – 9:25 am

“This isn’t healthy!” Finding ourselves in situations detrimental to our well-being can be frustrating. In our jobs and personal lives, we seek to correct the behaviors and relationships that shift our sense of balance to a breaking point. Our students often feel similar stress. As educators, we may view their studies, teamwork, deadlines, and multiple projects as the norm, or even a rite of passage for our students. In this session, led by a design professor and recent graduate, we will explore a research-backed wellness-centered learning framework. Our work is inspired by the Job-Demand-Control-Support model for workplaces translated to educational settings aimed at reducing stress for students. Using this structure as our guide alongside the Buck Institute’s Gold Standard for Project Based Learning, we will brainstorm and build a collective toolkit of applied ideas to promote healthy projects and learning environments.

Cennydd Bowles

Designing Technologies for Future Flourishing
March 15 9:25 – 9:50 am

When people talk about well-being they often refer to health. Is social media addictive? How can we manage stress? But philosophers paint a bigger picture. For them, well-being is about flourishing: leading a life that’s good for you; becoming the best possible version of yourself. No individual is ever in full control of their own well-being, since it’s also affected by a vast range of external systems, products, services, and technologies. How can the designers of these systems handle this moral responsibility? Is it even realistic to design for the lofty goal of helping people thrive?

Wayne Li

Human-Centered Design Practices for Community-first Engagement
March 15 9:50 – 10:15 am

This story and strategy session shares the key practices and lessons learned from Georgia Institute of Technology’s Vertically Integrated Project Studio’s work with our local community, the residents of the Historic Hunter Hills Neighborhood. Walk with us through our community-first process of engagement, learn about how we  explored the rich heritage of this locale, built empathy with residents, engendered trust, and cultivated opportunities for community well-being. Finally, see the results from a year alongside  residents in co-designing their community (brand) identity and imagine how you might implement similar community-centered processes in your place.