Guide a Design Development Process

Guide a Design Research Process
August 27, 2014

Guide a Design Development Process

At Carnegie Mellon University, student design teams working in Kristin Hughes’ Design and Policy for Humanitarian Impact used the Social Design Pathways in two different ways.

At the beginning of the semester students used the matrix to gain a foundational understanding of programs engaged in social innovation, their practices and perspectives, and the formation of evidence based public policy.

SDP afforded students the opportunity shape future perspectives on affecting large-scale social impact at the local, regional, and national levels. As they developed their ideas, the team then used the SDP to chart the ambition of their project: to take a successful stand-alone prison garden, build the hard and soft infrastructure to replicate the model and eventually use the proof-of-concept gardens to generate new policies about prison gardening in prison systems around the country.


By mapping the necessary steps for success (as they moved diagonally across the matrix), students were able recognize and create future scenarios, visually representing the relationship between national and local concerns, the need to inform through verifiable data and evidence, and the role that crafters of public policy and design can have in promoting social innovation. They could also clearly establish what partnerships, skill-sets, networks and evidence-based outcomes they would need to move from a stand-alone demonstration project to a specific public policy.