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Three talks about the role of the Humanities in design, strategic planning, and cultural policy. University College Dublin - November 2010.

Design and the Humanities

A lecture - 18 November at 1700

It is now widely accepted that industrial design should be centered on those for whom design is intended - people. This can mean ergonomics, attending to usability, thinking of services as much as products, focusing design on experience and interaction as much as upon a device or material artifact, looking to the intangible as well as the tangible, pursuing user-centered research through observation and ethnography, adopting agile management of design and production, rapid prototyping and testing, as ways of bringing people into the design process.

In this human-centered design, surely there is a role for the academic Humanities? Surely the Humanities have much to offer this new field that is taking center stage in the pursuit of innovation and creativity.

I will answer this question using several case studies drawn from my work at Stanford University, in IT, archaeological research, CARS (the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford), and through my connection with Stanford's - The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford - where we model "design thinking" as a practice of human-centered design.

Some reading:

My blog - - includes a running commentary on these "design matters" -

The's approach to human-centered design and "design thinking" is captured in the following:

Document IconDesign-Process-Introduction.pdf

Document IconDesign-Thinking-Method-Cards.pdf

Document IconDesign-Thinking-Process-Guide.pdf

Here are some comments on Design, the Humanities and The Arts in education, rooted in the experiences of Stanford Humanities Lab:

Strategic Planning and the Humanities

Museum Design and the Humanities

Two seminars

Strategic Planning - attending to matters of common and pressing human concern?

The Museum - the "hall of the muses" for the 21st century?

Again I will use Stanford experience for both these seminars (projects in Stanford Humanities Lab, work with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and our new project to model the museum of the future). I will particularly raise the issue of transdisciplinary connections (across the Schools of Engineering, the Humanities, our Design School, Stanford University Libraries, corporations and policy agencies).


On archaeology in "risk society" - [link] - an example of long-term thinking in archaeology and its pertinence to matters of common and pressing contemporary human concern.

A talk about digital futures for the museum - [link]

At the heart of all three sessions is the figure of the author/agent and the nature of creative practice. I will be proposing that the challenges of acting humanely today raise questions of the character of human being; I will join others in emphasizing the distributed interpersonal, relational character of human being.

A work in progress: nine archaeological theses on design: [link]

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