Crash Course: A Taste of Human-centered Design 

The Taylor Center’s 2 hour “crash course” introduces participants to human-centered design (HCD) as a process to generate new ideas to solve problems, while keeping people (“humans”) front and center. Through a fast-paced, hands-on activity, participants will learn some basic “mindsets” of design-thinking. Human centered design are ways of engaging with the world with empathy, a “beginner’s mind”, and a “bias toward action”. At the conclusion of the course, participants will take time to reflect on the workshop and the learning objectives. The crash course is free and open to the public, welcoming faculty, staff, students, and community members.

The crash course begins promptly at the published start time, so please don’t be late!

This interactive workshop is a quickly paced, timed exercise so be prepared to stay until the end.

Learning objectives for the crash course

The Taylor Center aims to teach participants methods on addressing problems optimistically, creatively, quickly and turning them into inspiring “challenges”. This workshop presents the first steps on the road to using design thinking to address simple as well as complex social problems in your own lives and work. Participants will

  • Practice a basic design mindset of empathy with end-users.
  • Experience a “bias to action” mindset to counteract “analysis paralysis”.
  • Appreciate the value of faster iterations and learning from feedback from users.
  • Explore ways to be more creative.
  • Enhance some skills in fabrication and sketching for communication and development of ideas.

We also hope the crash course will challenge some of your assumptions about addressing problems while having fun and working in a fast-paced, imaginative way. Get started! No experience necessary.

Dates: For the fall semester 2016, Taylor offers the crash course workshop once a month on Friday mornings. Check the Taylor calendar for specific dates and times and to sign up. Dates don’t work? Write to Laura Murphy at lmurphy2@tulane.edu

Want more in-depth practice in design for social impact? We offer a longer weekend workshop, the Fast 48 boot-camp, in November 2016.

Fast 48: A Weekend Boot-camp in Design Thinking for Social Impact

Fast 48 is offered in the fall and spring over a weekend. The boot-camp serves graduate students, staff, faculty, community organizations interested in learning and applying design thinking skills

Find out more and sign up here.

Get Taylorized!

We can offer specially “Taylored” experiences for Tulane units and community partners to address your specific needs: help infuse your team with an understanding of how HCD is used, build creative confidence, and solve problems. We can offer short tasters and longer multi-week consulting, teaching, and coaching. Since 2013, we have helped the CPS leadership institute, Tulane Hillel, the Tulane Teacher Certification Program, Tulane Development office, Mandela Fellows, Latin American infectious disease scholars, and partners like the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Rafiki wa Maendeleo trust in Kenya. Fee: By arrangement. Contact Laura Murphy

Design For America

Tulane is eager to start a chapter of Design for America (DFA). In order to do so, we need to build a community of 30 students willing to commit 2-5 hours per week. DFA students learn how to apply human-centered design to local, social challenges and to their lives as innovators.

If you are interested in bringing a chapter of DFA to Tulane please fill out the DFA Interest form and contact Tano Trachtenberg with any questions and/or ideas.


Design thinking applies human-centered design (HCD) modes of thinking and methods to address social problems and to improve our lives. It is not just a way to develop more products to sell in the market, nor to apply a technology (solution) you already have. How? It involves empathizing deeply with real people—our users—in context. It involves (re)defining the problems, often reframing them with our fresh perspectives. We use experimental techniques and rapid prototyping to generate, explore and test out creative ideas. We often form diverse teams of people with different expertise and experiences. We work with and under constraints, finding sources of creativity from the limits. We “fail forward fast”, aiming to learn what does not work, and deliver solutions –not just analyses. We will apply tried-and-true techniques from the professional design world to complex social problems in our professional and personal lives.


What? Human centered design has brought us the computer mouse, touch screens and graphical user interfaces (GUI), micro-solar energy for rural Africans, as well as mobile-phone based financial services for unbanked rural poor, and better patient care, classroom innovations, and more. Design thinking processes can be used to improve products and offer better practices, services, and experiences.

Interested ?

View our upcoming events to attend our next HCD Crash Course.

Location: 200 Flower Hall

For more information, contact Laura Murphy.

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