Human-centered design (video) is an approach to problem solving that combines the creativity of design thinking with a value-add of empathy. It is not only a strategy for designers, but rather a toolkit that all change makers can apply to make solutions both user-centric and accessible.
Whether we are discussing goods or services, impactful human-centered design innovations employ strategies such as behavioral nudges or even the use of humor to achieve their goal. Solutions can also identify positive deviance—highlighting cases of success in the face of obstacles, and then developing programs to encourage others to adopt similar behavior.
Human-centered design encourages us to imagine and create customized solutions that meet people on their level. The stories in this collection are about solutions to challenges faced by college students, on college campuses. As you read them, consider how human-centered design is reflected in the each of the programs discussed.
Articles by Jen Soong and Aneri Pattani describe initiatives that connect struggling students with a network of peers to meet people where they are, instead of relying solely on specialist intervention. Read on to explore other student-driven efforts to meet challenges on college campuses—including those now posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Click here to explore other stories about Practicing human-centered design in the Story Tracker!
- What is “design-thinking”? Explain how empathy plays a role when considering how to design not only products, but also distribution systems or even models for social services.
- Why are peer-to-peer interactions effective as a model for crisis and substance abuse counseling? Identify evidence in these articles that points to what makes this model different from relying strictly on professionals. Evaluate the ways in which this model is effective; in what ways might this model be improved upon?
- How might you use human-centered design principles to establish a program on your campus? Would you use the program discussed in the story as a model? Why or why not?
- How can we employ human-centered design when facing the challenges of remote learning during a major event like COVID-19? What solutions might be best suited to helping us adapt to this kind of social disruption—what other cases might we plan for? Consider ways in which we might leverage human-centered design to meet these, and future challenges.
- Choose another Issue Area where solutions practicing human-centered design have made a difference. Use the Story Tracker to create a collection of 4-6 additional stories, be prepared to share your insights with your group or class.
- Journalism is a collaborative practice: reporters are writing for their community, but they also depend on community members as sources for information. Indeed, the very purpose of journalism, according to the American Press Institute, is to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments. With that in mind, SJN wants to help connect news readers and journalists. Beside the name of the journalist on any of our story pages or the results page of the Solutions Story Tracker, you’ll find a Twitter icon that will link you directly to the journalists profile. Tweet at them with questions or compliments about their piece - you might be surprised by how much writers want to engage with their audiences! Don’t forget to tag us too (@soljourno) and use the hashtag #journalistintheclassroom if you are reading as part of an academic assignment.
- “Design thinking” refers to a set of skills that allow us to approach problem solving in a creative and comprehensive way. “Design” here refers to an iterative process of understanding, prototyping, and implementing, as opposed to the physical “design” of a consumer object. Imagining possibilities is central to design thinking. Being empathetic is crucial to the first step—namely, understanding the problem from multiple perspectives. The next steps involve prototyping and testing solutions. Both of these processes involve imagining different possibilities and perspectives, as well as including diverse voices and the perspectives of the community meant to be served by a good or service.
- Peer-to-peer models, like the Stay Together Appalachian Youth Project (STAY) and the I Care training program at the University of Pennsylvania, leverage the strength of networks. By enrolling peers, universities can bolster community mental health resources. Student are usually at the forefront of a crisis, often the first person another student will come to. By training students, programs can complement the limited resources of a health center. In the case of STAY, the support network extends to financial assistance and helps students meet other challenges posed when the support network of the college campus is no longer available.
- Encourage your students to consider the article about political discourse on campuses—is the BridgeUSA model described by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo (i.e., training student representatives to facilitate constructive discussions with members of all political ideologies on campus) a program that would work in your school? You may prompt students by asking them: if someone articulates a political or social point of view that is different from your own, or that you disagree with, what do you do? Would you want to participate in a program like the one described in the story below? What elements of this program might you change?
- In addition to the article by Ivy Brashear about students in Appalachia, issues on campuses during and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic offer a case study for “black swan” events and learning why scenario planning is a vital strategy to employ in design thinking. You can read more here about “Using Scenario Planning to Surface Invisible Risks,” from the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
- Answers will vary. For more on creating collections, click here, or use the course activity in the Making a Difference course module found here. For more on Success Factors, click here.