Pathways to Design Thinking course builds bridges into Alamance County

2024’s Winter Term course “Pathways to Design Thinking" builds bridges between Elon University and Alamance County.

2024’s Winter Term course “Pathways to Design Thinking” created and led by Elon University’s Center for Design Thinking developed students’ skills in interacting with community clients in a professional and productive manner with the use of innovative design thinking tactics. With the support of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, this course has also been designed to build bridges between Elon University and Alamance County.

Course clients included the Town of Elon’s Committee for Diversity and Belonging, HealthEU and the Community Engaged Equity Lab. All three organizations seek to encourage personal wellness, connection and equity throughout Alamance County.

Members of the course engaged in discussion.

The students were split into three teams, and each team was assigned an organization. Guiding each group was a student mentor from the Center for Design Thinking, a “Design Thinking Catalyst.” With their help, groups worked one-on-one with representatives from their respective operations over the course’s three weeks, helping them develop ideas for how to further encourage wellness in Elon’s community using design thinking techniques. For example, HealthEU stakeholders from across campus worked with students to brainstorm and vote on the best ideas for fostering student and community engagement in HealthEU, promoting health and wellness on and beyond campus. The most well-liked ideas will be preserved and sent to the HealthEU Council to be considered for implementation.

Not only does this course connect Elon University with the surrounding community, it increases equity across the community as well. Describing the impact of the Community Engaged Equity Lab, one of the student mentors Anya Bratic ‘26, said, “The lab emphasizes the importance of unbiased research, especially since so many people assess research without assessing the source of it. Looking at evidence and having the chance to talk with members of the community, we’re really setting ourselves up to create more equitable research.” Increasing the reach and exposure of this institution through Pathways to Design Thinking, Elon University is contributing to the effort to promote equity throughout the community.

Kylie Winterling ‘26, a business student who enrolled in the course due to its hands-on teaching on how to consult with clients, expressed her delight in working with the Committee for Diversity and Belonging during the client workshops: “It was beneficial in that I had to remove my own thoughts on what the outcome should be and… help others who have more knowledge on the topic produce a solution. And I realized, that’s what Design Thinking is! You’re helping others get to the solution, you’re not making the solution for them.”

Students receive transcript credit and a LinkedIn badge with successful completion of this class.

To learn more about center offerings this spring and fall semester, or request a consultation, check out the Center’s website.