IA Collaborative + Harvard University: The Critical Role of Design in Public Health
IA Collaborative Founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer Kathleen Brandenburg was a visiting professor in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s “Design of Social Innovation” class, a first-of-its kind course aimed at exploring a new role for design and design thinking within public health.
Patrick Whitney, former Dean at the IIT Institute of Design, invited Brandenburg to guest lecture the course to explore human-centered design strategies with students and apply them in a public health context.
IA Collaborative recently published a book edited by Brandenburg, Design for Health: The Beginning of a New Dialogue Between Design and Public Health, which documents the course and describes how design methods, in collaboration with scientific methods, may provide a revolutionary opportunity to transform public health.
Taking this class set me off on a path of reimagining possibilities for innovation in healthcare and social impact.
- Shalen De Silva, Harvard alumnus who is currently in the midst of launching a healthcare technology startup named Vincere
Throughout the semester, students explored how contextual design enhances research methods and design thinking illuminates systemic causes of complex problems. They also discussed the power of prototyping and how iterative research methods lead to faster solutions. In doing so, the class created a dialogue between science, design, and public health, empowering its students with new tools they could bring to the real world.
It’s now quite common for me to find myself in a room with clinical experts on one end, business/consulting types on the other, and me acting as a bridge between the two.
- David Opp, Harvard alumnus who now works in government affairs at the Boston Medical Center
Brandenburg is continuing her involvement with the Harvard course in 2019, serving as a visiting professor and guest lecturer.
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Special thanks to the IA Collaborative team members that made the publication of Design for Health: The Beginning of a New Dialogue Between Design and Public Health possible:
Amy Wicks, Tori Wheeler, Alec Cerminaro, Kit Leitner, Lila Trickle, Rebecca Gimenez, Megan Pryce, and Derek Smith.