Elon welcomes Danielle Lake as director of design thinking

Lake comes to Elon from Grand Valley State University to advance the university's design thinking initiative.   

After a competitive national search, Elon University has selected Danielle Lake as the university’s director of design thinking and an associate professor.

With a doctorate in philosophy from Michigan State University, Lake’s expertise in “wicked problem” solving, design thinking and community engagement is grounded in the arts and sciences traditions upon which Elon is built.

Lake brings more than 10 years of experience spanning innovative pedagogy, curriculum development, program leadership and community engagement. She has taught such courses as “Design Thinking to Meet Real-World Needs” and “Wicked Problems of Sustainability.” She is an active scholar, regularly publishing and presenting on issues associated with design thinking.

In her previous role at Grand Valley State University, Lake led the building of student and community-capacity for addressing wicked problems, which are social or cultural problems that prove difficult to solve because of issues such as incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people involved, a large economic burden and the interconnected nature of the problem with other problems. She brings expertise and experience in training for strategic doing and intergroup dialogue to diverse communities to tackle problems of significance, to span curricular programs and bridge university-community divides.

Lake’s work has led to a number of national recognitions. She received Early Career Recognition from the International Association of the Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement in 2018, the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement from the American Democracy Project in 2017, and the John Lachs Award for Public Philosophy in 2016, as well the Distinguished Community Engagement Award and Early Career Scholar Award from her previous institution.

Lake aims to build the Center for Design Thinking into a more active and dynamic space for learning, exploring, and practicing design thinking. She will continue and expand on Elon’s design-thinking accomplishments and grow an Elon By Design team comprising Dawan Stanford, Elon’s consulting director of design thinking, and several Student Design Thinking Catalysts.