Michael Arnold Mages

Michael Arnold Mages

PhD in Design


My research interests include developing a rich understanding of the ways that service design, technology and the material environment facilitate human conversation. I am especially interested in creating work that supports participants' understanding of their own intersectional identity as a component of a conversation, and creating work that can support conversations that are difficult, or high-stakes, or where one or more participants are in a leveraged position.

During the past 3 years I have formed research partnerships and conducted projects with The City of Pittsburgh, The Heinz Endowments, The Environmental Charter School, The Office of Veterans Affairs (MyVA Communities), and the Obama White House initiative My Brother's Keeper for Southwestern Pennsylvania. I have worked as a reseracher for Carnegie Mellon's Program for Deliberative Democracy, and the Metro 21: Smart Cities Initiative.

Formerly, I ran a design consultancy specializing in strategically oriented design practice: research, communications analysis and planning, as well as UI design and development for web, mobile and web-based applications. Our clients included mid-sized regionally-oriented businesses, startups, universities, and Fortune 100 companies. I have taught research-informed design practice to students in business, computer science and fine arts at the University of Colorado, The University of Denver, and the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, and now at Carnegie Mellon University. Past course projects have included consulting for identity system and branding for Case Logic, business process audit and redesign for the Denver Regional Transportation District, and an extensive experience audit and redesign of all customer-facing business processes for the Denver District Attorney's office. Other clients have included Oracle, Seagate, The Denver Art Museum, The Denver Botanic Gardens, Celestial Seasonings.

Recent Conferences & Papers

Researching Transition Design, article with Dimeji Onafuwa, in Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios en Diseño y Comunicación, Universidad de Palermo, Buenos Aires, special issue on Transition Design, 2018

Designing for Civic Conversations presentation at: Relating Systems Thinking and Design 6, Oslo, Norway, October 18–20, 2017

Redesigning the Town Hall: Deliberative Community Forums presentation at: National League of Cities City Summit, Pittsburgh, PA, November 16–19, 2016

Uber and Language/Action Theory paper presented at: DRS2016: Design + Research + Society - Future-Focused Thinking, Brighton, UK, June 27–30, 2016

Academic and Community Service

Deliberative Democracy in the City of Pittsburgh guest lecture in: Mexico: ¿Que hacer frente a un mundo cambiante? instructors Blanca Heredia, Marisol Vazquez, Carolina Arroyo; Talentum-Universidad 2017, July 12, 2017

Guest presentation in: Designing Deliberative Democracy, CAS/POL SCI 297H – Democratic Leadership, instructors John Gastil, Chris Beem; McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Pennsylvania State University, October 2, 2016

Organizer, PhD Symposium for In-process work (invitational PhD student workshop, Carnegie Mellon University), March 4–5 2016

Workshop Organizer, Mattering by Design (graduate student workshop, Carnegie Mellon University and Parsons School of Design), November 7–9 2014

Grant Awards

UPLIFT Challenge Grant, Games for Health (Health and Wellness) – Proposed by Michael Arnold Mages and Francis Carter, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, 2017


Jewish Healthcare Foundation QI2T Health Innovators Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2015

Courses Taught

Designing Civic Conversations (MA)

Speak Lab — Approaching Wicked Problems (upper-division)

Seminar in Design Thinking (MA)

IDEATE: Information Design (lower-division)