Majors & Minors

Design Thinking

Students and faculty across the disciplines study how effective and creative design in different modalities has affected society in diverse cultures across history.


Michael Kamen

Professor of Education & Chair

Michael Kamen

Professor of Education & Chair

Design thinking is an analytic and creative process that we use when we diagnose problems, experiment, test prototypes, and implement feedback to redesign our original ideas. This process plays an important role in many academic fields, from stage design (theater), painting (art), historical analysis (history), and curriculum development (education) to remote sensing (physics/engineering), cancer research (biology), and survey development (sociology/psychology). 

Fulfilling the Paideia approach of making connections across different disciplines, the minor includes courses across the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences as well as the fine arts. Among other topics of inquiry, students investigate the following questions:

  • How do individuals develop from novice to expert designers in their fields of study?
  • How does effective and creative design impact society?
  • What are the similarities and differences in design thinking between disciplines?
  • How do you represent complex ideas using multiple modalities?
  • What has design thinking looked like in different cultures and historical periods? 

Students engaged in design-thinking activities will have the opportunity to participate in high-impact experiences across campus, including art shows, theater events, King Creativity Presentations, and the Creative Works Symposium. And because they are immersed in flexible ways of thinking while participating in hands-on problem-solving that results in innovative solutions, students are prepared to pursue multiple professions, from research scientist and culinary engineer to educational technologist and career designer.

Design Thinking is one of the Paideia Minors. Paideia provides intentional opportunities for students to integrate various academic disciplines and experiences, empowering them to develop versatile analytical abilities that lead them to become creative problem solvers who are well equipped to tackle complex issues. Paideia is not a traditional program but provides innovative, structured pathways that enable the acquisition of these invaluable skills.

All SU students are encouraged to graduate with Paideia Distinction by making Paideia a formal part of their studies. This requires completing either one of the Paideia Minors (or two High-Impact Experiences) and successfully completing a Paideia Seminar.

Graduation with Paideia Distinction formally recognizes students’ cultivated curiosity to learn, integrate multiple viewpoints, and create change. The Paideia skills that students develop make SU graduates highly sought-after by recruiters, employers, and graduate programs.

Learn more about the Paideia Seminar, how to apply for it, and how to graduate with Paideia Distinction.