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Dr. Laura Murphy is the Associate Director of Research and Scholarship at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University. She is also a professor in the Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences department teaching critical development theory at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Murphy has spearheaded several design thinking workshops and training classes during her time at Tulane, like the Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (SISE) minor, SISE 2010 Design thinking course, SISE 4050 Senior seminar course, and the “Fast 48” Weekend bootcamp. Dr. Murphy is constantly thinking about her students and how she can better design a classroom that meets their needs and maximizes the opportunities for learning. 

Connect with Dr. Laura Murphy: 

LinkedIn 

Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking 

Publication

Pluriverse Publication Chapter: Dr. Laura Murphy 

Written by Tran Nguyen-Phuong and edited by Natalie Hudanick. 

Download the PDF Layout of the Dr. Laura Murphy Chapter of the Pluriverse Publication.  

The reality is that she never stops designing. 

Dr. Laura Murphy is the Associate Director of Research and Scholarship at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking and a professor at Tulane University. She has spearheaded several design thinking workshops and training classes during her time there. Currently, she teaches a social innovation class. Dr. Murphy views it as a design challenge. She is constantly thinking about her students and how she can better design a classroom that meets their needs and maximizes the opportunities for learning. 

Dr. Murphy’s definition of design thinking is: “the abilities that any human beings can and ought to be able to develop. That includes ways of working like a designer: being creative, being able to collaborate with other people and being able to see themselves as someone able to see a problem and address it.” She considers it a tool for social impact and wants to empower individuals to design their way out of situations. 

What brought Dr. Murphy to design thinking was her innate desire to fix the problems that she saw in the world from challenges of inequality to climate change and environmental waste. She felt like her training in mechanical engineering, social science, and planning did not offer her all the tools to address these problems on their own. It was out of this frustration that motivated her to help develop the social innovation minor at Tulane, highlighting the application of design thinking. 

Place and identity are both very important to Dr. Murphy. With different places comes different cultures and different ways of living. She reflects on her time in Jakarta, Indonesia and summarizes an epiphany she had: places are designs, “designs for living, designs for community”. Looking to different places and different people inspires Dr. Murphy to see the endless possibilities that could lead to solutions. Being an educated woman from rural Northern California, she tries her best to be conscious of her white privilege in the United States. Dr. Murphy believes that jargon used in design thinking serves as a barrier that prevents the universalization of it. There needs to be a better, more inclusive language in order to expand design and include more people in the conversation. 

Her advice to everyone is to first “recognize that you’re already a designer in some way”, from designing your outfits to designing your meals for the day. Once you start recognizing that the world is designed, Dr. Murphy suggests that you ask yourself questions like: “What do I like? What do I not like? How do I make it better?” According to her, “it’s a mind shift. You don’t actually need any specific skills”. 

About the Hello from the Pluriverse Podcast

The Hello from the Pluriverse Podcast aims to open up and create a space to have conservations about the pluriversality in design.

This podcast is a project of the Design Thinking for Social Innovation Program at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University.

Executive Producer: Lesley-Ann Noel, Ph.D

Sound editing

Hello from the Pluriverse 2020-2021 Student Team

Hello from the Pluriverse 2019-2020 Student Team

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