Pathways to Design Thinking course focuses on campus and community applications

One credit “Pathways to Design Thinking” course offered students the chance to deepen their understanding of the design thinking process by applying it to campus and community design challenges. 

During the winter term, students interested in design thinking were offered the opportunity to participate in a one-credit design thinking class. The course allowed students to work on their own personal projects while also supporting on- and off-campus course partners.

The class met daily from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. and allowed students to enhance their design thinking skills by applying them to a self-selected and guided design challenge. The class reviewed each step of the design thinking process, which involved not just readings, but also podcasts, blogs, design activities, reflection and narrative.

Students were divided into four teams. Each team worked with a client to create a Design Facilitation Plan. The clients included the Burlington Downtown Corporation, the Student Professional Development Center, the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, and Elon’s Admission office. Students worked with their organization to design and facilitate a workshop that met their goals.

Sara Beth Hardy, manager of the Burlington Downtown Corporation said the “board and committee members benefited greatly from the workshop, gaining insight and a new set of tools for sharing and collaborating virtually.”

The workshop emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind in order to comprehend the cycle of oppression, and introduced design thinking methods to encourage participants to change their fixed mindsets.

Workshops encouraged interactive activities and dialogues. “The exercises the SPDC team did as a part of the program were fun, interactive, and gave us some great ideas,” said Ross Wade, senior associate director of career services in the School of Communications. “Most importantly, after the program, we had tangible next steps and have incorporated them into our work.”

Other assignments for the class included an “Epic Failure Weekend”, where students were encouraged to fail as much as possible and document their discoveries.

“I love seeing what ideas everyone can come up with, it’s been really interesting to see what cool things they are using design thinking for,” said Maggie Cox ’23, a design thinking student catalyst and peer educator for the course. “I’m an engineering major, so I use design thinking in all of my courses to solve problems and find new solutions to different issues.”

“I’m creating different techniques to keep myself organized while balancing everything I want to accomplish,” said Katie Murphy ’22. “This class has given me a lot of tools and resources to help me do that.”

Students who completed the course received a verified digital badge to demonstrate competencies in the design thinking process.

Plans are in development to offer the course in the 2021-22 academic year. To learn more about Elon By Design and offered workshops, head to our website. Select a workshop of interest and complete a request form to save your spot.