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Pedagogy & Design



Parsons, School of Design program in Design Strategy & Management focuses on design and business driven insights rooted in research, analysis, critical thinking, creative ideation, and communication. Through a combination of studios and seminars the curriculum provides students with the opportunity to explore and integrate business strategy, design methods, and liberal arts capacities. 


Adjunct Professor of Design Strategy & Management. Taught the first semester of a two semester long thesis course. The studio seminar course is composed of self-directed, student-driven investigation and inquiry, supported by readings, reviews, and discussions. Students engage in micro-teaching sessions and receive feedback from faculty, guest reviewers, and peers. 


“Innovation in education requires the courage & creativity to take leaps at some of the most entrenched 'truths' we hold — the very premise of how our institutions are designed.”

Sandy SpeicherPartner and Managing Director, IDEO San Francisco


Course Structure

Student's ideate, refine, and develop thesis concepts though cumulative research and testing. Course material was formed around 5 modules.  

I.  Context, Content, & Practice

Establishing internal and external sources of topic research and establishing initial self-direction.

II.  Thesis Topic Refinement

Tools and techniques for understanding context and impact including identifying stakeholders, landscape and competitor analysis, feedback systems, and framing.
Outputs: Thesis proposal and research outline.  

III.  Mapping & Visualizations

Understanding performance measures, conducting stakeholder interview analysis, identifying opportunities for creative intervention. Visual communication of ideation, refinement, and analysis.
Outputs: Midterm presentations & open feedback critiques.

IV.  Engagement Strategies

Tools and techniques for consumer or user engagement. Survey of field research techniques, ethnography, product or service diaries, interview sessions, experience mapping. Understanding when to use what technique based on self-directed thesis topics and research scope.  Extracting insights, prioritizing and sorting themes, framing opportunities, finding meaning, and storytelling. 
Outputs: Refinements and substantive additions to visualizations. 

V.  Validation Frameworks & Strategy Development

Demonstrating impact. Refining measures based on human-centered insights. Establishing an ethos for design development. Creating a validation framework and strategy. 
Output: Final presentations & validation plans.

Kara Walker installation at The New School University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, New York City

Kara Walker installation at The New School University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, New York City


The Readings

The readings for the course fall into three categories: 

1.  Practice Development

Readings that support the cultivation of an individual creative practice. Or cultivation of specific skills.

2. Research Techniques

Examples of practices with guidelines, risks, and real world examples. 

3. Context and Theory

Readings involving the broader view of context, the larger world, human experience, civic or societal relevance, materiality, philosophy or impact.


Student Work / Learning Outcomes

Because thesis work was self-directed, the capstone experience varied from student-to-student. 

Selected student thesis work included:

  • Material Memory - Exploring intangible memory in tangible objects.

  • Social Network Analysis - Examining the Parsons community to understand how students use technology to connect, collaborate, and showcase work.

  • Exploring The Post-consumer Textile Landscape - within the United States of America with focus on current behavior, consumer participation and disposal methods.

  • Prototyping plan & materials exploration for 3D printing sneaker soles using ODM techniques.

  • Toward more human content discovery - Exploring how content breadth is potentially limited by association algorithms with basket-analyses rule sets.

  • The Semiotics of Fashion - Elevating discourse in critical fashion writing.