About This Course

This course teaches advanced theory of interaction design, specifically as related to dialogue, discourse, semantics, experience, and communication. Students will explore discourse related to the philosophical and sociological aspects of technology, and will relate this discourse to issues of wicked problems in society and culture.

Core Concepts and Ideas

This class emphasizes the following main ideas, themes, and concepts:

  • Aesthetics, related to the visual, temporal, and cultural qualities of design solutions
  • Poetics and rhetoric, including the role of design in shaping both culture and behavior
  • Semantics and the subtle qualities of form in non-physical product, service or system design

Reading List

Outcomes and Competencies

The following outcome statements articulate the competencies, abilities, and skills a student will have as a result of completing this class. Students will...

  • Be able to describe complicated issues of design theory as related to design practice
  • Understand the historical underpinnings of the methods and processes used in design
  • Understand how to ground design decisions in a historical, philosophical context
  • Understand the relationship between behavior change, impact, and design

Course Schedule

  In Class Readings for This Class

Mon, 3/9

Introduction: A Brief History of Technology

Stop Trying to Save The World
Michael Hobbes

Our Misguided Focus on Brand and User Experience
Jon Kolko

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage
Aneel Karnani

Wed, 3/11

With the Best Intentions – 1

Mon, 3/16

With the Best Intentions – 2

Wed, 3/18

Assignment 1 Due


Mon, 3/23

Power – 1

Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education
Dunne, Martin

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Schumpeter Revisited
John Hagedoorn

Designing for Democracy at Work: Introduction and Chapter 11
Pelle Ehn

Jon Kolko

Wed, 3/25

Power – 2

Mon, 3/30

Work Session

Wed, 4/1

Assignment 2 Due


Mon, 4/6

Technology: Strange & Familiar – 1

Making by Making Strange: Defamiliarization and the Design of Domestic Technologies
Genevieve Bell, Mark Blythe, Phoebe Sengers

Design Fiction
Bruce Sterling

People are people, but technology is not technology
Gary Marsden, et al

The Law of Accelerating Returns
Ray Kurzweil

Wed, 4/8

Jon out of town

Mon, 4/13

Technology: Strange & Familiar – 2

Wed, 4/15

Work Session

Mon, 4/20

Assignment 3 Due


Wed, 4/22

Obligations of Entrepreneurship – 1

The sharing economy is a lie: Uber, Ayn Rand and the truth about tech and libertarians
Richard Eskow

Design, ethics and sustainability – Guidelines for a transition phase
Ezio Manzini

From Social Theory to Policy Design
Stephen Linder, Guy Peters

The Construction of Complexity in Design and Public Policy Contexts
Chris Urbina Meierling

Mon, 4/27

Obligations of Entrepreneurship – 2

Wed, 4/29

Assignment 4 Due