Nov 28, 2023  
Rensselaer Catalog 2018-2019 
Rensselaer Catalog 2018-2019 [Archived Catalog]

Design, Innovation, and Society

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The Design, Innovation, and Society (DIS) bachelor’s degree program provides creative, socially conscious students a broad education in design. Offered by the Department of Science and Technology Studies, the program adopts a social-scientific approach to design that integrates creative, technical, and organizational/entrepreneurial dimensions. This unique bachelor’s program includes project-based design studios, discussion-focused seminar courses, and a cumulative senior project that integrates all aspects of the student’s education.

In the DIS studio sequence, students address real-world social and environmental challenges with innovative products, services, systems, and environments. Students also learn about the diversity of design professions and their place within them. Seminar courses facilitate systematic exploration of the many intersections among science, technology, design, and society. Students explore personal, professional, and social values throughout their coursework. The curriculum prepares graduates to work effectively in a variety of job settings, including design consultancies, non-profits, corporate contexts, start-ups, educational institutions, and government research agencies. Graduates are also prepared to enter graduate programs in design, social sciences, engineering, environmental studies, and management. 

The DIS curriculum entails a sequence of 10 courses (40 credits) that include the design studio sequence (20 credits), seminars (16 credits), and the senior project (4 credits). The degree also requires a 16-credit Complementary Area of Study (CAS) in which students develop design-oriented expertise in another department. DIS is designed to encourage dual majoring with programs such as engineering, computer science, arts, building sciences, management, communications, science and technology studies, sustainability studies, and others. Most dual-major programs can be completed in eight semesters and the CAS requirement is fulfilled by the dual major.

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum

Upon successful completion of the DIS program, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • formulate design problems, based in social-science research, that challenge conventional assumptions and respond to root causes.
  • analyze and apply design methods that identify key factors (e.g., economic, technical, environmental, cultural, etc.) that shape problems and potential solutions.
  • realize innovative design concepts through visual representations, physical prototypes, and user testing.
  • collaborate with diverse stakeholders throughout the design process. 
  • write and present effectively about their understanding of complex social problems and how those problems can be addressed through thoughtful, socially conscious design solutions.



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