Kristin Hughes

Kristin Hughes

Associate Professor

Kristin Hughes, designer and educator, works with members of at-risk communities to address complex social problems. Since no one discipline holds the ultimate solution for such problems, Kristin honed a community-engagement model of design that generates solutions by fusing the expertise and passion of community members and leaders across disciplines including education, health care, fine arts, and public policy.

Kristin’s career in education spans more than 18 years. As an Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, Kristin and her colleagues have developed interdisciplinary courses that blend design with informal learning, health literacy and, more recently, public policy. These endeavors highlight Kristin’s personal mission: to demonstrate how design can be leveraged for social change.

Her research and community projects illustrate the results that occur when you treat each participant like the expert they are and invite the exchange of skills and know-how among community members as they make decisions and solve vexing problems their communities face every day. 

Over the years she has won numerous national and international design awards and often speaks and offers hands-on workshops to educators around the world, most recently in Queretaro, Mexico, Beijing and Wuxi, China. In addition to her design practice, Kristin currently serves on the advisory board of Propel Schools. Kristin holds a BA from Syracuse University and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

On-going projects:
Latham St. Commons: Placing care at the center of economic redevelopment
Latham St. Commons is a place that focuses on improving the health of all people living in Pittsburgh’s Garfield and Friendship neighborhoods. We are building a resilient and sustainable ecosystem of people working together to address all of the factors affecting access to good health—social support, health care, education, diet, employment, and connection to nature. Our mission is to provide the necessary tools so people of all ages can design shared learning experiences that aim to dissolve the idea of us vs. them, so that we’re left with just us, living well, together.

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Hazelwood: I Lived, We Live; What Did We Miss? The building blocks that enable communities to co-create socially relevant solutions specific to their own community needs and interests.


Past Projects

Fitwits is a set of tools, both print and digital, that provide families, educators, and healthcare professionals greater insight into health-impacting decisions that children make on a daily basis. Through child’s play, we use character agents and game activities to engage children in meaningful health improvement practices. Fitwits strategically places itself at multiple levels where people can make healthy decisions to improve the quality of their lives. Families & care providers, places & products, and processes & networks: together, these systems of relationships are the underpinning of a healthy community.


Click Urban Adventure Game