Design Thinking in Higher Education (workshop)

Over the last 10 years, design-led organizations have outperformed the S&P 500 by 228%. By embedding designerly ways of thinking and working across their workforces, such organizations are able to better understand latent customer needs and to reframe complex problems, leading to insights that constitute strategic competitive advantages (DMI Report, 2014). While Silicon Valley, global retailers, forward-looking municipal governments, and even banks have been re-orienting around customer experiences in recent years, many would claim that Higher Ed has clung to the traditional strategy of, “bigger, better, more expensive” (Christensen, 2011).

But the times, they are a-changing. With growing challenges on all fronts: alternative education models, increased competition, questions concerning the relevance of curricula, unsustainable student debt, and a rapidly changing job market for graduates, many Higher Ed institutions are turning to design methods and a human-centered design framework. Hoorah! However, this requires calling into question the traditional paradigm that has been operating for centuries, and posing such questions as, “Who was the system design for?” and “Who is it currently serving?” Join us as we explore these very questions in this activity-based, hands-on workshop.

****We’ll have students from University of Portland share their first-hand stories, and dig into their experiences with an eye to uncovering latent needs that might be turned into opportunity.***

As an attendee, you will join a community of human-centered designers to practice techniques for ethnographic research, identifying insights, mapping experiences, and problem-framing. Participants will learn new design-thinking skills and principles, and glimpse how these methods can be applied to real challenges facing Portland higher ed.


PDXHCD is building a well-connected, human-centered community in Portland. We bring together industry experts, academia, and local organizations to learn the why, what, and how of design thinking and how it can benefit our community and the city at large. We are a collective of experts and event leaders in the field.

The University of Portland is an independently governed Catholic university guided by the Congregation of Holy Cross that addresses significant questions of human concern through disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies of the arts, sciences, and humanities. Increasingly UP is interested in the critical role innovation — defined as “people creating value through the implementation of new ideas" — plays in all areas of contemporary life. This workshop represents a part of the University-wide efforts ongoing to further integrate innovation and design with our mission.