The Evolution of Teaching and Learning Design with Bruce Hanington — DT101 E39

Welcome to the Design Thinking 101 Podcast! I’m Dawan Stanford, your host. In today’s episode I am joined by Bruce Hanington. He remembers being introduced to design as a small child with his father being a Commercial Designer. Initially headed for a career in architecture, his journey took a detour as an undergrad when he ended up graduating with a degree in Applied Psychology. But Bruce realized he wanted to get into design, and that he wanted to be on the creative side instead of just studying design. During his graduate work in industrial design, he continued his interest in dealing with the more human factors of design, primarily, how design affects everyday encounters and life.

After emerging with an Industrial Design education coupled with Applied Psychology, he landed in academia in the School of Design as a part of the Industrial Design core, able to teach in all the aspects of teaching he loves best, including form giving, human factors, and understanding the interpretation of objects with meaning and significance. His recent promotions included an appointment to the Head of Design at Carnegie Mellon six months ago.

Bruce believes technology, and the products which are a part of our life now as a direct result of technology, are the biggest game-changers for design thinking. The orientation of work toward social causes, and designing for social good, has become an established part of design thinking.

On disciplinary boundaries, “I think you see a broadening of boundaries so regardless of what form of design you may have a particular passion for and how you might study it, ultimately I think that designers have a more broad-based understanding of design and problem solving in general, and design methods, approaches and practices can be applied to almost any design.”

Bruce has seen a shift in design methods over time, especially in the surge of information via books and online courses. He recently authored his own book on design thinking, “Universal Methods of Design.” There’s been a shift in design thinking to design responsibly for everyday living to enhance people’s lives.

Listen in to find out the new hurdles of design thinking, what new companies are looking for concerning the design thinking process, and why design thinking is more of a philosophical approach. Find out Bruce’s opinion on which methods or approaches to design have changed the most in the past decade.

Our Guest

Bruce Hanington is a professor and head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Prior to this, he was director of graduate studies, and program chair of industrial design. Bruce has dedicated his teaching and research to methods and practices for human-centered design, with an emphasis on design ethnography, participatory design, and the meaning of form in context.

In addition to working with industry partners through collaborative projects and executive education, his work has been published in Design Issues, The Design Journal, and Interactions, with chapters in Affective Sciences in Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction, and The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design. Bruce is co-author of the book Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions.

Show Highlights

[01:06] How Bruce arrived to where he is today.
[05:32] Bruce’s recent promotions in the design field.
[06:35] Factors which Bruce believes are having a significant impact on design in the classroom.
[08:45] Components which are a factor of design maturing in the United States.
[10:21] How Bruce has seen design research methods shift over time.
[13:34] Wrestling with the “rush to artifact.”
[16:48] Companies are looking for ways to design more creatively, flexibly, and collaboratively.
[18:45] Challenges brought to the design thinking table, and responses that work well.
[23:11] Changes and updates that Bruce has recognized in the newest edition of his book.
[28:20] Where students are headed in the future, and what will they need to be equipped with to succeed in design thinking.
[35:38] What needs to happen at the personal level for students and professors.
[38:52] How you can contact Bruce and learn more about his work.


Bruce Hanington on LinkedIn
Bruce Hanington on the Web
Bruce Hanington at CMU
Bruce Hanington’s Research
Bruce Hanington’s articles on
Design Research Methods: a Repository of Research Methods for Design
An interview with Bruce Hanington on Medium
Design for America
Elon By Design at Elon University
Center for Design Thinking at Elon University

Books Recommended

Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems,
Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions by Hanington, Bruce & Martin, BellaThe Pocket Universal Methods of Design by Hanington, Bruce & Martin, Bella

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