Sep 17, 2019  
2011-2012 General Catalog 
2011-2012 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG Please see current catalog]

Design Thinking for Innovation: A Study Abroad Certificate in Proficiency

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Caine College of the Arts

Department of Art


Certificate in Design Thinking for Innovation:

A Study Abroad Certificate Program in Switzerland 


Program Description

This interdisciplinary certificate program leverages the existing networks, resources, reputation and knowledge base associated with the USU Department of Art’s Annual Summer Art and Design Program in Switzerland, into a consolidated “Design Thinking” learning experience. It invites undergraduate students from the Department of Art’s graphic design emphasis to join with students from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business to cross-fertilize the analytical and intuitive strengths of both disciplines. Also, because of the broad-based application and appeal of Design Thinking processes, all USU students (both undergraduate and graduate students) from majors offered within the USU system are invited to supplement their education with this new skill set and contribute to its inherent interdisciplinary nature.

Requirements and Structure

The four-course, 12-credit-hour, curriculum is structured as an integrative learning experience such that students participate in all four courses simultaneously in a single venue, guided by completing varied course specific assignments as required by the published program field guide. The foundation practicum course, Design Thinking for Innovation, is supported by supplementary courses that provide historic context, right-brain aptitude enhancement and hands-on visual communication skills for concept presentation. Students must achieve a grade of B- or better in each course to receive certification.

Certification Value

Historically, students participating in the Switzerland Design program have been very successful in finding rewarding employment and the utility of the certificate program is reflected in a growing demand for students graduating with design-thinking skills and future employment prospects look very bright. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) has defined the competencies of the successful designer of 2015 as those of a ‘Design Thinker.’ Business organizations such as Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Samsung have adopted design thinking principles as a central tenet of their innovation systems and are eager to hire design-thinking innovators. In addition, innovation design consultancies such as IDEO, Continuum and Ziba Design have found extraordinary success through employment of ‘Design Thinking’ strategies.


A Certificate in Design Thinking for Innovation is recorded on a student’s official transcript and is awarded to all students who complete the program requirements. This certificate enables employers and graduate programs to see evidence of a student’s determination to go the extra mile.

Admission Requirements

Admission is by application and personal interview.

Required Courses

      ART 4470 - Special Topics in Graphic Design and Illustration  / ART 6400 - Graduate Graphic Design Studio  or MGT 4800  (Design Thinking for Innovation) 3 cr

(lecture, research, practicum emphasis)

This course is designed to provide students with knowledge of theories and processes at the foundation of design thinking and practice. Through experiential research, students will obtain personal experience using design problem solving processes to develop innovative ideas and solutions. Students will examine the role of design in European visual culture; its interactions with the natural, social and designed environments. As the crossroads of Europe, Switzerland has a rich and diverse design culture. Students will conduct a contextual study of design ideas, values and beliefs as communicated through traditions of architecture, fine art, folk art, graphic design, industrial design, advertising, etc. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor


      ART 4470 - Special Topics in Graphic Design and Illustration  / ART 6400 - Graduate Graphic Design Studio  or MGT 4800  (Cultivating Right Brain Aptitudes) 3 cr

(lecture, research, practicum)

The basic premise of this course is that we are shifting from an information economy built upon logical, linear thinking, to a conceptual economy that is increasingly intuitive, creative, empathetic and conceptual. To thrive in this new economy, students will need to develop their right brain abilities to harness a hunch, weave a compelling narrative, think broadly, leverage levity, nurture meaning and empathize with a broad audience. Students will learn to cultivate these aptitudes through on-site research, introspective journaling, story-telling, guest lectures and service. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor


      ART 4470 - Special Topics in Graphic Design and Illustration  / ART 6400 - Graduate Graphic Design Studio  or MGT 4800  (Exploring the History of Human-Centered Design) 3 cr

(lecture, research, directed readings, written response)

During this experiential research course, students will compare and contrast both historic and contemporary design from a human-centered perspective. They will evaluate a wide variety of designs through the lenses of coherence, inclusiveness, malleability, engagement, responsiveness, ownership and sustainability. Students will research both good and bad examples of user-friendly graphics, artifacts, machines and products. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor 


       ART 4470 - Special Topics in Graphic Design and Illustration  / ART 6400 - Graduate Graphic Design Studio  or MGT 4800  (Drawing for Visual Thinking and Presentation) 3 cr

(lecture, sketchbook journaling)

This course tackles complex problems with simple visual frameworks. Students will become familiar with traditional frameworks such as venn diagrams, process maps, relational maps, two by two matrices, but will also develop visual process frameworks of their own. They will be asked to daily document their travels through creating ‘back of the napkin’ drawings that employ relationships using simple problem solving symbols and icons. They’ll learn how anyone can clarify a problem or sell an idea by visually breaking it down using a simple set of visual thinking tools. They’ll learn the art of visual storytelling and drawing for persuasion. Students document their daily experiences using an appropriate visual framework to communicate and document their experiences. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor

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