Open Design at Duke and Beyond (2019-2020)


When we hear the word “design,” we often think about a product: the features of a technology, the look of a space, the integrity of a structure. But design also refers to a process that can be used by teams to solve deeply complex, real-world problems. And because the design process (sometimes called design thinking or a variation referred to as human-centered design) asks us to learn and demonstrate essential 21st-century skills – like collaborating with stakeholders, communicating across media, analyzing data and iterating forward, thinking boldly and creatively in the face of uncertainty – more people are starting to think about how a design mindset can be integrated into educational contexts.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project offers students a rare opportunity to help ideate and build design experiences at Duke. Students will gain content knowledge about design thinking and human-centered design, plan and execute a one-day design learning summit, build educational resources for use at Duke and beyond and help design Duke’s new Design+ Durham program. Given Duke’s commitment to interdisciplinary thinking and inclusive action, the team will build a design framework that is dedicated to an open ethos, to a design process that values and promotes access to information, inclusion, diversity, transparency and meritocracy and to collaboration and community. We call this brand of design “open design.”

Anticipated Outputs

Literature review and landscape report; open educational resources about open design for use by anyone within or beyond Duke


Summer 2019 – Summer 2020

  • Summer 2019 (optional): Research: Small research team conducts literature review of prevailing theories and a landscape report of university offerings and other educational resources from industry, government and nonprofits
  • Fall 2019: Learn, Listen, Design: Students gain basic content knowledge about theories of design thinking and human-centered design and what educational resources are currently available; team plans and executes one-day design summit; team begins designing both educational resources about design thinking and human-centered design as well as Design+ Durham program
  • Spring 2020: Build: Team builds educational resources about design thinking and human-centered design for use at Duke and beyond
  • Summer 2020 (optional): Launch of Design+ Durham (open to all Duke students by application)

Team Outputs to Date

How to Implement Design Thinking at Duke (Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase 2020)

This Team in the News

Meet the Winners of the 2020 Bass Connections Student Research Awards

Design+: Bass Connections Team Champions Open-source Learning and Design

Open design cycle.

Team Leaders

  • Aria Chernik, Social Science Research Institute|Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Kevin Hoch, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

/graduate Team Members

  • Jeel Ghughu, Master of Engineering Mgmt-MEG
  • Matthew Lanza, Public Policy Studies-MPP
  • Tarunam Mahajan, Master of Engineering Mgmt-MEG
  • Paige O'Leary, Global Health - MS

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Maria Abinader
  • Priya Parkash
  • Karissa Tu, Biology (BS)
  • Tinpei Tung, Psychology (AB)
  • Daisy Wang
  • Lydia Wang
  • Jodi Yeh

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Katharine Amato, Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Laura Howes, Provost Office
  • Raquel Salvatella De Prada, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies