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Design Thinking for Social Innovation

Taylor offers multiple programming opportunities for Tulane students, faculty and staff, and community members to learn the mindsets and methods of design thinking (human-centered design).

A design thinking mindset puts people at the heart of understanding, experimenting and acting when addressing challenges.

Human-centered designers notice opportunities, ask better questions, identify various stakeholders, try new ideas, and dare to imagine a different world.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is used by organizations around the world to generate new ideas for schools, offices, organizations, and communities—creating better experiences, systems, and services.

In Taylor design thinking workshops and trainings, you will learn to:

  • Visualize and share issues and ideas with others
  • Work collaboratively, inspiring others and engaging communities
  • Be more creative
  • Define and re-frame problems
  • Use rapid prototyping to counteract “analysis paralysis”
  • Practice a “bias to action”
  • Consider distinct end-users and different points of view

Human centered design brought us:

  • the computer mouse
  • touch screens and graphical user interfaces (GUI)
  • better micro-solar energy products and services
  • mobile-phone based financial services

The Fast 48

The FAST 48 is a three day weekend training that teaches the basics of human-centered design for social impact.

Participants learn via short cycles of individual and group practice, including direct work in the community.

Learn more about the Fast 48

Design Thinking News

Taylor offers free material for teaching students about social impact careers

By: Barri Bronston The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University has developed an online library with materials such as instructor guides, videos, worksheets and other resources to assist educators in helping university students…

Design Thinking in Action: From the Classroom to Duncan Plaza

Photo Courtesy: Cordula Roser Gray. By: Alexandra Greengrass. “I always have seen the relationship between architecture and design thinking as an intricately connected one…”, said SE Professor Cordula Roser Gray. Roser Gray says the elements of design thinking are very…

Fresh Food for New Orleanians, by design: The Liberty’s Kitchen + Top Box Foods Design Krewe

Photo: Anjali Prasertong Video: Jennifer Scarnato Miller Check out this video to learn more about a  collaboration. The Design Krewe was a project with Liberty’s Kitchen (LK) and Top Box Foods (TBF), where Taylor trained selected graduates of the Liberty…

Climate change specialist speaks to students on challenges and opportunities in the field

Juan Carlos Monterrey-Gómez never intended to be negotiating climate change policy at the United Nations barely a year after graduation. After earning a degree in economics and international development from Tulane University in 2014, the Panama native landed a job in…

Built for each other: Taylor and PlayBuild NOLA

Photo: PlayBuild NOLA/Facebook Running a nonprofit is not for the faint of heart. Constantly faced with a lack of time, money and resources, immediate needs compete with long-term planning and strategy for attention. Angela Kyle, founder of local nonprofit PlayBuild…

Coffee and creativity fuel introductory design thinking workshop

Living with water, and often flooding, is a fact of life for Louisiana residents. With the destruction from three major hurricanes fresh in the headlines, staff, students and community members came together to learn design thinking principles while rethinking the…

SISE class uses design thinking to help local organizations

Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test. Five words to live by for students in Professor Allison Schiller’s Design Thinking for Collective Impact class. A core in the Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship minor, SISE 3010 introduces participants to the design thinking…

Social Entrepreneurship Professor launches website to elevate community voices

Two years ago, Dr. Vicki Mayer hatched a plan to create a user-focused online platform that documents and preserves New Orleans culture. This week, with the official launch of, that dream becomes a reality. is a fusion of…

FAST 48 VIII scheduled for November 10-12, open for registration

FAST 48 is an immersive boot camp to cultivate mindsets and practical skills in human-centered design (HCD). It’s designed for graduate students, scholars, and professionals— scientists, artists, teachers, health promoters, business owners, non-profit directors, administrators. We welcome a diverse group…

How Might We Weather the Storm Season?

A Team-based Introductory Design Workshop Last Friday, about 18 participants came from Tulane and local community to join our final “Design Thinking and Donuts” of the year for a Team Challenge to Plan for Hurricane Season. Participants came from local…

Get Involved

Tulane students, faculty, staff, and community members can learn design thinking with us.

To get involved, email Associate Director of Design Thinking Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel at

Keep in Touch

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