Design Studies

The School of Design at Carnegie Mellon is one of the few programs to offer a solid foundation in design studies, which is an academic discipline that addresses the ubiquitous nature of design and the complex activity of designing. Courses in design studies address the different ways in which design has been characterized and practiced, the contexts and systems in which designs operates, and the responsibilities that come with the power of designing.

In the fall of 2014, the School will introduce an important new area of study called Transition Design, which is based on the premise that designers can play important roles in transitioning our societies to more sustainable futures.

Being a designer means making communications, products, and environments, but it also involves making change happen in communities, organizations, and the world. Graduates of our program are ‘transition designers.’ To make transitions happen in manageable ways, designers must be careful researchers of the systems and situations in which they intervene. They must use a diverse set of approaches to help them decide what to do, and perform ongoing evaluations of the effectiveness of their design interventions.

Carnegie Mellon students learn strategies for persuading others of the value of the changes made possible by design. We teach these aspects of being a transition designer through Design Studies courses that all students take, complementing their studies in products, communications, and environments. Design Studies courses combine lectures and workshops around places, systems, cultures, and futures.