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

Section 1: History and Precedent in Interaction, Technology, and Experience
Present the role of technology in the world, and argue its importance.

  Topic In Class Readings for This Class

Mon, 3/10

Interaction & GUI History

Understanding This Course
Discussion of Computers and Computing


Wed, 3/12


Discussion of Readings [1A]

[1A] Marsden – People are People

[1A] Mann – Continuous Lifelong Capture of Personal Experience

[1A] Sterling – Design Fiction

Mon, 3/17


Discussion of Readings [1B]

Lecture: Conceptual Models and Visualizations

[1B] Dourish – What We Talk About When We Talk About Context

[1B] Bell – Making by Making Strange

Wed, 3/19

Experience and Emotion

Discussion of Readings [1C]

[1C] Boehner – Affect & Emotion

[1C] Forlizzi – Understanding Experience

[1C] Sanders – Scaffolds for Experiencing

Mon, 3/24

Presentation of Position Artifact

Lecture: Interaction Design Principles


Section 2: Creativity, Strategy, Design
Describe the relationship between creativity, knowledge, and strategy.

  Topic In Class Readings for This Class

Wed, 3/26


Discussion of readings [2A]

[2A] Cross – Discovering Design Ability

[2A] deBono – Serious Creativity

[2A] Schon – Problems, Frames & Perspectives

Mon, 3/31

Design Strategy

Discussion of readings [2B]

Lecture: Design Strategy

[2B] Hamal – Strategic Intent

[2B] Martin – Management Education

Wed, 4/2


Discussion of readings [2C]

[2C] Weick – Organizing and Process of Sensemaking

[2C] Peirce – The Three Cotary Propositions

Mon, 4/7


Discussion of readings [2D]

Lecture: Data, Feedback & Framing

[2D] Mahlke – Visual Aesthetics and the User Experience

[2D] Norman – Living with Complexity

Wed, 4/9

Presentation of Position Artifact

Lecture: Types of Interaction Design


Section 3: Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship
Describe and define social entrepreneurship.

  Topic In Class Readings for This Class

Mon, 4/14

Pursuasion and Behavior Change

Discussion of readings [3A]

Lecture: Applying Behavior Design

[3A] Fogg – Model for Behavior

[3A] Lockton – Making the User More Efficient: Design for Sustainable Behavior

Wed, 4/16

Social Innovation

Discussion of readings [3B]

[3B] Wyatt – Design Thinking

[3B] Martin – Social Entrepreneurship

Mon, 4/21

Behavioral Economics

Discussion of readings [3C]

Lecture: Making Decisions

[3C] Ariely – Predictable Irrational (book)

Wed, 4/23

Business Models

Discussion of readings [3D]

[3D] Yunis – Building Social Business Models

[3D] Elkington – Win Win Win

[3D] Dees – The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship

Mon, 4/28

Work in Class



Wed, 4/30

Presentation of Position Artifact