Closeup, cropped photo of red and white, felt lanterns in the Dorothy O'Brien Innovation Lab.

AcademicsUndergraduate Majors

Design, Innovation & Society, BS

The Design, Innovation & Society Bachelor of Science degree leverages the power of design to create human-centered solutions and prepare students for innovative careers in the design field and more.

The Design, Innovation & Society develops skill sets in design processes to innovate and solve problems in everyday life. Students will explore the interconnectedness between people, technology, culture, and social change to address today’s complex societal issues. The major expands the influential role of design through a deeper understanding of social issues, human behavior, ethical considerations, global perspectives, diverse cultures, sustainability challenges, and value systems. Its goal is to help address complex issues and envision possibilities for enhancing human life through design.

The program spans diverse design theories, methods, and disciplines. It combines content areas like visual communication, the design process, research methods, and technology, enabling students to collaborate effectively with designers and professionals from various fields.

Students gain the skills, tools, methods, and strategies to become future leaders and pioneers in the expansive field of design.


Central to the Design, Innovation & Society curriculum is an understanding of human behavior, history, and culture, along with their relationships to design, integrating the social sciences with the humanities. Student will take core courses in Design Studies in areas such as:

  • Design Fundamentals
  • Visual Communications
  • Design History and Culture
  • Design Thinking
  • Design Leadership

Students will also select a pathway of 1) Design & Social Change, 2) Design & Culture, or 3) Design & Technology, and choose electives in these areas. In addition to Design Studies courses, electives may be chosen from the following departments:

  • Art and Art History
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Civil Society and Community Studies
  • Consumer Science
  • Computer Science
  • Geography
  • Communication Arts
  • Engineering
  • Video Games/Game Design

A strong learning emphasis is placed on developing critical thinking abilities through collaborative approaches to human-centered design challenges. Experiential learning with community partners and a focus on problem-solving, systems thinking, and ethics align with industry trends in applied design.


Required internships and collaborative projects provide problem-solving and leadership opportunities, networking, and other career-building experiences. Students gain real world experience to build their portfolios, as well as industry connections to jumpstart their careers.


Students can select one of three pathways and tailor their curriculum to their career interests in the following areas.

Design & Social Change: The unique combination of analytical thinking and creative problem-solving skills will point students toward various leadership positions in designing products and services in the market, design consultancy, and non-profit organizations that aim at bringing social changes. According to the Bureau of Labor in 2024, jobs that require a similar mix of technology, human behavior, culture, and design skills, have higher than average projected job growth.

Design & Culture: Understanding the past, present, and potential relationships between design and culture will point students toward careers in museums and galleries; cultural policy; cultural resource management; education; communications; creative direction; historic preservation and public humanities; as well as a variety of design disciplines. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2024, jobs that require a mix of culture, technology, human behavior, and design skills have higher than average projected job growth.

Design & Technology: Students in the Design & Technology pathway will acquire skills transferable to multiple areas of practice in the broader field of design, including, but not limited to, wearable technology, game design, digital fabrication, interaction design, data visualization, and critical design. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2024, jobs that require a mix of technology, human behavior, culture, and design skills, have higher than average projected job growth.