Volume 1: Designing to End COVID-19

Doreen Lorenzo, Associate Dean of the School of Design and Creative Technologies
Editor's Note

From Doreen Lorenzo

A welcome message for the Journal of Design and Creative Technologies by Doreen Lorenzo, Associate Dean for the School of Design and Creative Technologies in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.

a Haitian mother holds her young daughter, who wears a white dress and is looking directly into the camera
Toward a Better Future: How We Can Reimagine Resiliency in Design

By Mehera O’Brien

Learn how two design firms — Dalberg Design and argodesign — partnered to help Mimsi, a pop-up maternal health clinic serving Haitian women, collect much-needed data. When COVID-19 hit, the program was defunded, adding urgency to Haiti’s maternal health needs. While we search for new funding — and face our own challenges in America — how can designers play a role in shaping the conversation around resiliency and inspiration for a better future?

wide shot photo of UT Fine Arts building at dusk
Neutral Violence: Reframing Institutional Spaces and Structures for Post-Pandemic Equity

By Henry Smith

How might we design spaces to be inclusive for all? Society is scrambling to accommodate the needs of post-pandemic functions while at the same time satisfying health requirements. This challenge coincides with a movement towards greater humanity and equality among all people — a push to truly confront racism at the root. Drawing from his research designing and managing creative spaces, Smith ponders the ways we can lead societal growth through redefining the spaces we form and occupy.

researchers from the Design Institute for Health hand out COVID-19 safety kits to community members from affordable housing in East Austin
Power to the People: Human-Centered Design Within Social Service Coordination

By Rose Lewis, M.S.S.W.; Natalie Campbell, B.F.A.; Diana Siebenaler, M.B.A.; Ryann Grindstaff, L.M.S.W.; Kate Payne, B.A.

Earlier this year, a team from the Design Institute for Health began working on improving social service coordination in affordable housing communities in East Austin. They soon found themselves needing to pivot from in-person to more frequent virtual services as stay-at-home orders rolled out locally in March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic surfaced needs from community members who had not engaged in the previous months of the team’s services rollout. This article focuses on the role of trust and relationships within the community and low-tech solutions as a means of increasing access to and engagement with newly designed service offerings.

graphic of a circle formed by colorful stick figures, each grabbing onto the next one's feet. their "bodies" are colorful amorphous rings
With, Not For: What Designers can Learn from Social Workers when Engaging with Complex Social Systems

By Rose Lewis, M.S.S.W.; Lauren Gardner, M.F.A., and Adam Zeiner, B.S.
Edited by Kate Payne, B.A.

Crisis situations spotlight system failures and require us to rapidly innovate and adapt in response. When it comes to health, COVID-19 has emphasized broader issues in the health system and has shown how focusing on health care alone is not enough. Holistic and whole-person considerations—spanning brain health, food access, and economic security, etc.—are essential to community health. Based on work done at the Design Institute for Health during COVID-19, a team of health designers shares lessons they learned from adapting community services to the crisis and how designers might learn from the discipline of social work to champion solutions that broaden equity and access.

Dr. Thomas Ungar and crew on the set of "Think You Can Shrink?"
Psychiatry and Stigma: How one Canadian psychiatrist uses design thinking to reimagine mental health care and combat taboo

Dr. Thomas Ungar is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the psychiatrist-in-chief at St. Michael’s Hospital, part of Unity Health Toronto. In this interview, Journal editor Nada Dorman talks with Dr. Ungar about prostates, the pandemic and how design can change the future of mental health.

2D illustration of people meeting via Zoom on a desktop computer. a plant sits to the left and a mug of steaming coffee to the right
Designing at a Distance: Medical Students Lead Interprofessional Teams to Prototype in a Pandemic

By Nina Lemieux, Natalie Weston, John Harman, Faiz Baqai, Umer Khan

While COVID-19 disrupted the practice of medicine across the globe, pre-clinical medical students, not yet trained to volunteer on the front lines, searched for ways to channel their unique expertise to serve communities outside of the hospital. This article details how four Dell Medical students led interprofessional teams of undergraduate students in prototyping biomedical devices, including a strength assessment tool for use in telehealth appointments and a low-cost pneumatic ventilator for emergency situations. It also discusses the challenges and solutions the students found while navigating the design process virtually.

Many Zoom windows, each featuring a Waco ISD teacher. At the bottom, text reads "Empower All. Value All."
An Evidence-Based Design Thinking Pedagogy

By Dr. Julie Schell, Xie Hill, Tamie Glass, and Dr. Kelly Miller

How might we leverage self-efficacy to increase adoption and scalability of design thinking for social change? One studio-based initiative helped build design thinking self-efficacy among non-designers in order to prepare them to scale social change within one Texas school district. This article outlines how a team of design thinking educators carefully crafted the studio to feed four established sources of self-efficacy: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and emotional physiological states. Such efforts increase adoption and scalability of design thinking for social change.

a young woman studying to be a doctor in a shed made of tarps with a dirt floor. It has been raining, so she is surrounded by mud
Helping the Next Billion Users Beat the Pandemic

By Veena Sonwalkar

With the pandemic ravaging many emerging economies, the need for physical distancing is becoming ever important. Billions need to be digitally equipped to ensure they are not socially distanced and have access to vital information and basic needs. Even though smartphones are becoming cheaper along with data plans, not all citizens in countries like India are online or even have a smartphone. There is a huge digital divide between the next billion users, who are expected to rush online to avoid being left out during the pandemic. This article looks at designing for the next billion users and the challenges around designing for them.

Photos of civilians in hazmat suits and masks. a shield overlaid to the left contains "Citizen-Centric Digital City" and a heart. overlaid text to the left reads "Data Informed Citizen-Centric Design"
The Power of Data and Design to Create Citizen-Centric Cities

By Harsha Kutare and Somnath Chakravorti

Although the COVID-19 pandemic caught us off-guard, it did not have to be that way. We have access to the two most powerful tools available to us today: data and accessibility. Yet governments still struggled to identify and reach out to the high-risk population. Health records of individuals are available across hospitals, but government bodies can’t access them due to concerns around privacy and misuse. Design and technology can play an important role in filling in the gaps and converting available data into consumable and actionable insights to lessen the impact.


Volume 2:  Designing for Social Good

abstract artwork including different patterns with a large pink carnation and multicolored sphere in the center
Reflections on Power and Privilege in Design: A Letter from Three White Design Educators

By Katie Krummeck, Eugene Korsunskiy, and Gray Garmon

It is time for a reckoning in the United States around our violent past and painful present regarding racism, discrimination, and systemic oppression. It is time to realize that systems of oppression and inequity have been designed, and must therefore be re-designed. Design thinking has recently been criticized as a methodology that perpetuates systemic racism and white supremacy. We believe that this oversimplification misses the whole picture. While design can be and has been used to build inequity and injustice, we believe that with the right mindsets, approaches, and sensitivities, it can also be used to help dismantle the very systems of oppression that it is (rightly) blamed for helping to establish.

illustration entitled "Industry Partnership Journey Map" outlining each step of the partnership throughout the semester
Community College + Industry Collaborations: Designing Meaningful Partnerships To Identify Diverse Talent

By Luke Johnson

Santa Monica College’s Interaction Design (IxD) program was created to fill an equity gap in the emerging field of interaction design. Students apply to the IxD program because it makes financial sense — and because it might be their only option. The program attracts diverse students who, given their circumstances, might not otherwise be able to pursue tech-focused careers. Yet while the school is surrounded by tech’s biggest companies in Silicon Beach, many of these companies have failed to embrace the program and its students. Why? This paper focuses on the semester-long Design Challenges the program has done with tech neighbors in Santa Monica’s Silicon Beach (including Hulu, Bird, and Red Bull), highlights what works and what doesn’t, and offers a call to action to big tech to do even more in diversifying their workforce.

illustration of cars speeding down a highway with mountains in the background
Road Rules for the New World

By Jared Culp

For the past four years, designer Jared Culp has been carless by choice. But COVID and several months of mandatory isolation shined a new light on the dirty car dependence he had been avoiding. A car is a source of freedom. It brings people together in a time when we can only see our neighbors through mask and shields. What was once a source of luxury is now mandatory in most states and cities. In this article, Jared explores how we got here and the possibility of how we get around in the future in the wake of the current pandemic.

two teachers wearing hijabs sit on the ground during a workshop with Katie Krummeck and Gray Garmon
One Design Process. 10 Countries. 1,000 Schools. Endless Opportunity

By Gray Garmon and Katie Krummeck

In this article, designers Gray Garmon and Katie Krummeck explore how to build capacity in people new to the design process in order to empower those closest to the challenges facing communities to make change. In the fall of 2019, the Aga Khan Foundation asked Garmon and Krummeck to create a design-based innovation process for schools participating in the global Schools2030 initiative. The resulting process, led by teachers, is open-ended and adaptable for the cultural contexts and resource constraints of each unique school. In response to the global shutdown, Krummeck and Garmon pivoted to create an online design sprint organized around addressing the challenges to learning that arose during the coronavirus pandemic.

Young people purifying water while walking using Hippo Rollers
Moving from Products to Systems

By Brooks Protzmann

Good design happens when there are more constraints as it forces the designer to focus on what is essential. Social good has been a recurring theme in modern industrial design and serves as a constraint that forces better designs. Industrial design came about in the 20s and 30s and replaced the bespoke, handmade products of the previous generation with mass-produced, accessible products. Thinking about the end-to-end lifecycle of a product, this article examines an industrial designer's ability to make design decisions that account for global sourcing, the environment, and current social trends.

open laptop displaying product sketches alongside the word "Product" - designers are working together in the background behind the laptop
Democratizing Product Creation to Boost Borderless Innovation

By Henrik Johansson and Kris Hughes

The core of the Gembah mission is to demystify and democratize the product creation process. They believe product innovation shouldn't exist only in stuffy boardrooms or behind the closed doors of heavily capitalized companies. Their process allows bootstrapping entrepreneurs and small businesses alike to innovate alongside Gembah's team of deeply experienced product designers, researchers, and manufacturing experts to bring their product vision to life. The beautiful thing about e-commerce and product development is its borderless nature. Gembah's workflows leverage resources internationally, including boots-on-the-ground experts worldwide, to help people turn concepts into a workable, market-ready product.

a pile of many colorful pipe cleaners, all connected together during a design thinking workshop facilitated by Cassidy C Browning
Design Thinking’s Social Justice Genealogies & Practices

By Cassidy C Browning

Design Thinking is a vital tool for the wicked problem of social justice, as its human-centered methodologies are diversity-, equity-, and inclusion-centered. However, the history of Design Thinking often spotlights the work of a few (white and male) writers, crafting a homogenous and linear creation story. As a way to de-center whiteness and craft a fuller, deeper understanding of Design Thinking’s epistemologies, its tenets, and its potential, Cassidy C Browning weaves strands of practices and theories from women of color, feminist though, queer people of color, Hip Hop, and Jazz. In order to maximize the liberatory potential of Design Thinking, this article is grounded in the current U.S. moment, identifies specific practices to employ, and questions who is considered a designer, what counts as design, and what histories we choose.

still image of VR Futures Project created by Planet Texas 2050. a map of Texas displays population data in the form of a 3D bar graph across the state
The Transformative Power of Games

By MJ Johns

Games have an unusual power as an interactive medium. They say a picture is worth a thousand words — how many more might it be worth when you can interact with, manipulate, and get feedback from the image you see? Playing a game is like having a conversation; you put a bit of yourself in, and you get something new and unique in return. This article will look at examples of how games can impact people on an individual and societal level and how a well-designed gaming experience can bring about positive change in our lives. From bringing families and friends closer together and connecting strangers across the globe to making science more accessible and innovating how we teach and learn, games have an incredible potential to change the human experience.

Logo for DIVR (Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Reality)
Proactive Approach to Diversity and Inclusion: Designing an Immersive, Performance-driven, Virtual Reality-based Diversity and Inclusion Training Program

By Adam Wagler, Ph.D.; Katie Krcmarik, M.F.A.; and Changmin Yan, Ph.D.

Can virtual reality be the future of diversity and inclusion training? With the power to transport users, VR has the potential to increase a narrative’s persuasiveness. Immersive media can replicate difficult scenarios in which participants may practice skills acquired in training. Three professors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are using VR capabilities to pioneer Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Reality (DIVR), a measurable, accessible, and sustainable VR-based diversity and inclusion training program.


Meet the Team

Editor-in-Chief: Doreen Lorenzo

Managing Editor: Nada Dorman

Web Editor: Michaela Newman

Article Editor: Katie Fox


Illustration by Misa Yamamoto

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