Design TH!NKing with Bruce Claxton

Written by Kasey Harris

For spring 2018, the TH!NK Program hosted a seminar and workshop on “design thinking” with  Bruce Claxton, a Fellow of the Industrial Designers of America, as the keynote speaker. The seminar drew participation from nearly 250 faculty, staff, and students from across the university with 30 of those faculty and staff members invited to participate in Claxton’s design thinking workshop.

Dr. Susan Carson, director of the TH!NK program and associate professor in Department of Plant and Microbial Biology noted one of her significant takeaways from Claxton’s presentation dealt with “how design and design thinking really needs to be a collaborative effort, exploring problems from a number of different perspectives.”

Carson further noted Claxton incorporated perspectives from social sciences, art and design, engineering, and other areas when approaching problem-solving throughout his work as an industrial designer.

In the workshop session, Claxton provided faculty and staff an opportunity to put his D.E.S.I.G.N model to the test by using it to discuss and work through complex problems existing across university campuses. For some, this meant addressing the issue of curriculum redesign to incorporate co-curricular or more critical and creative thinking. For others, it meant figuring out solutions to problems such as rethinking or restructuring campus organizations or programs. “It was really interesting. The approach he had us follow to incorporate aspects of critical and creative thinking into our decision-making process is exactly what we are trying to encourage our students to do in a disciplinary context,” explained Carson.

In addition to the TH!NK seminar and workshop, Claxton also hosted a Scholars seminar event for students within the University Honors and Scholars programs. Claxton drew upon his ample experience as an industrial designer to encourage students to think outside the box as they approach problem-solving in their coursework, projects, and even career considerations. In addition to the forum event, several students joined Claxton for lunch and participated in a question and answer session.  

For more information on the TH!NK program, or information on getting involved, please visit the TH!NK website, or contact Dr. Susan Carson. For students looking for more information on the University Honors or University Scholars programs please visit their websites.

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