Kristin Hughes is an Associate Professor in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design. Her interdisciplinary research blends design with informal learning, public health and place-making. Specifically, it focuses on how collaborative, community-designed solutions can catalyze social and civic engagement. By employing design-research methods that combine hands-on learning and creative thinking, her research-as-practice approach helps communities to identify factors of motivation and agency, while supporting distinct individualized learning styles. Her rich corpus of community-based projects (e.g., Night Owl Bakers, Latham St. Commons, Fitwits) illustrate the impactful results that occur when all members of a community are invited to exchange skills and know-how as they make the decisions that will solve vexing problems affecting their communities every day.
Since arriving at Carnegie Mellon in the fall of 2001, she has had the opportunity to teach at all levels of the curriculum from Freshman Design Studio to Advanced Typographic Systems to Design for Social Innovation. Most recently she has been co-teaching a course called Design Thinking for Social Innovation with the H. John Heinz III College. She also advises a number of graduate students on their thesis projects.
Over the years she has won numerous national and international design awards and often speaks and offers hands-on workshops to educators and students around the world. In addition to her design practice, she currently serves on the advisory board of Propel Schools. Kristin holds an MFA in Visual Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University. She has also studied abroad at Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and at Yale University’s workshop in Brissago, Switzerland.