Allen, Tania. Solving Critical Design Problems. Routledge, 2019. Ansari, Ahmed, et al. “Editorial Statement.” Decolonising Design, 27 June 2016, Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large. University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Batson, C. Daniel, et al. “Four Forms of Prosocial Motivation.” Social Motivation, edited by David Dunning, Psychology Press, 2011, pp. 103-126. Boas, Franz. Race, Language and Culture. The MacMillan Company, New York, 1940. Brownlee, John. “Can Good Graphic Design Help[...]

Participatory Design Thinking

~ 8 minutes The products of design have the capacity to alter the ways people interact with and interpret reality, and the majority of designers are influenced by cultural experiences that differ from those of stakeholders. For instance, if designers educated at metropolitan universities were to design for farmers in rural areas or even at-risk youth within a 10 minute drive of campus, they would lack fundamental understandings about these[...]

The Dimensions of Culture

The six dimensions of culture were first posited by Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede in his seminal book, Culture’s Consequences, in 1983. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory describes the reciprocal effects of a society’s culture on the values and behaviors of its members.  If used uncritically, these dimensions of culture can be hierarchical and reductive—so we must not attempt to validate Hofstede’s findings, but to use them as a model for[...]

The Social Design Workflow

The Social Design Toolkit offers a new design workflow that combines methods from Cultural Anthropology, Design Thinking, Participatory Design, User Experience Design, and Cultural Dimensions Theory. However, instead of investing itself too heavily in any of these, this workflow attempts to liberate its methods by providing opportunities for these disciplines to overlap. The following steps will walk you through this process (click each step to view in detail): Phase 1[...]


~ 10 minutes From ancient cave paintings to post-modernism, one of the fundamental traits of humanity is our ability to create. Anthropologist Franz Boas once wrote that “there are no peoples without religion or without art” (Boas 634), showing that design exists as a formational factor in all the world’s cultures. Throughout human history, we see examples of art and design as products of our ingenuity (like these clever Inuit[...]