Design Thinking Minor

The Design Thinking minor is an interdisciplinary program that will strengthen students’ technical, creative, and management skills as they prepare to become design managers, innovation specialists, and creative leaders at companies. Classes will prepare students to holistically and empathetically consider challenges in people’s lives and how design could be used to solve a problem through new products and/or systems.

For this minor, a minimum of 22 credit hours is required, with at least 3 credits earned in courses numbered 300 or above from each of the categories: Business, Design, and Social Sciences. Students wishing to complete this minor must have their programs approved by their advisor and the Design Thinking Minor Coordinator, Jessa Wilcoxen.

Design thinking involves an approach to innovation and problem solving that takes into account the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and requirements for business success. ~ Tim Brown, IDEO

Design Thinking Courses

Core Courses & Electives

AT 110 Intro to Digital Media (3)
This course introduces students to professional technology in digital media and experimental artistic techniques. Students will be asked to explore topics such as digital art, graphic design, web design and development through the creation of independent digital media projects, individually, and in groups. Class meetings will include technology workshops, seminar-style discussion of assigned readings, and critiques of student works. Studio and Lecture. Meets the Creative Arts general education requirement.
AR 201 Computer Art & Design Orientation (3)
Designed to apply computer technology to solving visual problems in arts and graphic design. Emphasis is on individual expression and acquiring skills to effectively communicate through computer graphics. Students are introduced to fundamentals of computer graph- ics through lecture, presentation, discussion and hands-on experiences. Prerequisite: none
MK200 Principles of Marketing (3)
Students will use the marketing concept of satisfying customer wants and needs to learn and critique the marketing functions (product, price, place, promotion, people) of local & global businesses. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.
SO100 Intro to Sociology (3)
This course acquaints students with the discipline of sociology and the sociological perspective, with an emphasis on social problems and inequality related to class, race and gender. Students taking this course will learn how to view groups, communities, societies and major social institutions with what C. Wright Mills termed the “sociological imagination” in an effort to inform personal views and convictions about society within this broader analytical scope.
ET260 Designing Your Life (1)
This 1 credit hour course will provide students with the opportunity to explore entity creation and leadership as a career direction. Create, Lead, & Own YOU is designed to help students embrace creation and leadership as life-long activities. This class will explore how each of us is capable of creating the future, whether by founding a fast-growing innovative business, giving life to a community event to raise awareness and funds for a good cause, effectively steering and developing an artistic career, or simply by facing a nagging day-to-day problem head on. Students will use self – analysis, observations, readings, and discussions to move students forward.
ET383 Innovation Lab (3)
This course will provide innovators with the frameworks to innovate within their discipline(s), define and understand customer markets, research opportunities, develop a prototype. The course focuses on understanding the process of creativity regardless of discipline and from idea through prototype, and introduces students to the meaning and implications of innovation. This is primarily a Performance Learning course with measurable objectives and activities. Pre-requisite: ET340 and ET380, ET390, or approved Student-run Venture Experience.
MG345 Leading Organizational Change (3)
Embracing and effectively managing change is essential for organizations to thrive in today’s dynamic and complex environments. Effectively responding to economic, social, demographic, legal, technological, competitive, global, and labor market variables, requires continuous organizational change ranging from relatively minor adjustments to major strategic shifts. Regardless of the nature and cause of change, improper approach and implementation can lead to unintended consequences and/or disastrous results. This course focuses on how to approach and implement organizational change in ways that maximize the likelihood of intended outcomes. Topics include organizational culture, reasons for change, framing problems as opportunities, psychology of change, approaches to change.
MK308 Consumer Behavior & Analytics (3)
Theoretical and analytical approach to consumer behavior. The objective is a better understanding of consumer behavior (and its measurement) which enables managers to effectively present products and brands in appealing and persuasive ways. Integrates complex theories of social and behavioral sciences with marketing mix elements and demonstrates the analysis of the theories in practice. Pre-requisites: MK200, Junior standing.
MG300 People & Performance (3)
Understanding how and why people behave the way they do, and how that behavior affects individual, team, and organizational performance is an essential skill for business management. In this course, students will also learn how to influence their own, as well as others' performance to achieve positive results. They will be introduced to such topics as motivation, diversity, organizational structure and design, and explore how diversity and culture impact individuals and organizations. Pre-requisite: Junior standing.
ET340 Foundations of Entrepreneurship (3)
This course will provide students with the understanding of the entrepreneurship process: Recognize opportunity, identify target market, convert idea to concept, determine and acquire resources, implement and lead the organization, and harvest and exit. Searching for a valid business model, students will take their business idea through the process and create a feasibility study and operating plan. Students will also acquire an understanding of business ethics and social responsibility in business creation. Pre-requisite: AC230 or AC210
MG375 Project Management (3) - pre req. MG275
Project management is a carefully planned and organized effort to accomplish a specific (and usually) one-time effort, for example: construction of a building, event planning, or implementing a new computer system. Project management is a skill which must be developed and practiced to be successful. The objective of this course is to master the principles of scope definition, Work-Breakdown-Structure development, assignment of logical activity relationships, resource and time constraint planning, construction of a budget and monitoring of planned versus actual progress using a variety of mathematical indices, within a defined timeframe and cost estimate. The concepts and techniques will be developed by navigation through one or more team based project(s) using a popular project management software package. Pre-requisite: MG275.
OL300 Self-Leadership (3)
As the first course in the Organizational Leadership major, Self-Leadership focuses on developing the understanding of personal character as the foundation for effective leadership within an organization. Within the framework of becoming a more effective leader, students will examine the positive leadership characteristics they practice, consider their challenges as springboards for growth, reflect on their own ethical practices, and recognize the importance of communication to cogent leadership.

Through the study of self-leadership, this course is also designed to develop non-traditional students as critical writers, readers, and researchers. Students are asked to read and actively critique leadership materials, write an informed and polished research essay on a leadership topic of their choice employing APA format, and practice oral communication skills through discussion and presentation. While this course does not cover everything taught in the Critical Writing, Reading and Research courses, it will familiarize students with the standards of academic writing and strategies for academic research within the context of the major.

OL310 Group and Team Dynamics (3)
A hands-on course designed to prepare students for the world of teams. Focus is to develop students' understanding of team dynamics, including team development, member roles, leadership, norm development, role of conflict and diversity in teams, delegation of authority, and team management.
OL344 Organizational Leadership (3)
This course promotes leadership development through the study of leadership theory and concepts and encourages the practical application of leadership at all levels in the organization. It includes examination of historical approaches to leadership and leadership theories that focuses on influential contemporary leadership perspectives such as Servant Leadership, Situational Leadership and Transformational Leadership. Through an examination of leadership theory and research, self-assessments and reflection, and application to the work environment, students create a personal leadership development plan.
OL385 Leadership, Diversity, and Multi-Culturalism (3)
This course will explore diversity and multiculturalism in today’s organizations. The course will highlight in particular issues of race, social class, gender, and age in the workplace, and will address why leaders should foster multicultural environments. Emphasis will also be on learning to value differences and best practices for creating diverse organizations.
Ol306 Organizational Behavior (3)
Understanding and maximizing the performance of organizational members is critical to leadership. Leaders and other organizational members must learn to facilitate effective work relationships and contribute to a supportive organizational culture. Borrowing from a variety of disciplines, including behavioral science and behavioral psychology, this course examines the complex relationships among individuals, groups, organizations and society, and emphasizes motivation, communication, leadership and group relations.
AR327 Computer Art & Design: Creative Concepts (3)
Continuation of Art 201. Emphasis on using skills and knowledge previously gained to develop more personalized computer graphic imagery. Students will perform in-depth research in selected visual-subject areas ranging from 2-D drawing and paint programs and 3-D modeling applications, to multi-media presentations. Pre-requisite: AR201 and consent of instructor.
EN305 Web Publishing (3)
This course is an introduction to writing, editing and publishing web sites for a variety of rhetorical purposes. Students examine the history of publishing technology and the remediation of print media conventions into web publications. Major topics include the integration of visual and verbal elements including writing, graphics, photographs, video, audio elements into rhetorically effective new hypertext media. As a workshop students learn to use the latest professional web design technologies for campus and off-campus clients.
AT365 Topics in Visual Media, Recommended:Animation/Motion Graphics or design topics and not photography (3)
This course focuses on a theme in one of the following areas in arts technology: design, photography, or multimedia. Pre-requisites: AT110 and AT151 or AR201 or consent of instructor.
AR325 Graphic Design: Ad Agency (3)
Designed to familiarize the student with problems and solutions encountered in daily work situations. Assignments include the design of catalog covers, brochures, letterheads, logos and posters. Students will have the opportunity to interact with real clients and learn professional skills related to the design profession. Studio and lecture. Pre-requisite: AR125 or 201.
SO320 Social Stratification (3)
The study of the patterns of social, economic and political inequality among individuals, families and social groups. Particular attention paid to the causes and consequences of inequality and to such issues as social mobility, class consciousness and power. Prerequisite: SO100.
SO330 Sociology of Gender (3)
A study of the structure of gender in societies. The focus of the course in any semester may be on some of the following issues: the social construction of gender, gender socialization, institutional aspects of gender, and economic and social inequality. Cross-listed with IN251.
SO365 Sociology of Globalization (3)
This course studies the changes in the social and economic structures of the world, especially since World War II. It focuses on the historical, economic, and social causes of globalization and the effects of these processes on global lifestyles, the environment, and social inequality. Since this course is cross-listed with IN350, Global Issues, it is writing intensive, and includes significant components of reflection and attention to ethical reasoning. Cross-listed with IN350.Pre-requisites: Junior status.
SO390 Environmental Sociology (3)
This course examines various impacts of human societies on the physical environment, as well as environmental impacts on human societies and culture. Specifically, we will explore how the U.S. and the global community are struggling to find ways of meeting our human needs for development and survival in the face of changing environmental conditions. We will explore the impact that human growth has had on our planet, the social impacts of land and resource development, and contemporary struggles over natural space involving competing ideological attachments to various landscapes and natural resources. In addition, we will explore the eco-philosophy of deep ecology and the modern environmental movement, paying specific attention to recent grassroots organizations and environmental justice issues. Cross-listed with IN350.
CO332 Gender Communication (3)
The course explores the relationship between communication, gender, and culture in various contexts such as in the media, relationships and organizations. Also, in analyzing these various contexts we investigate how gender is culturally constructed through communication by examining expectations, identities, roles, similarities, and differences.
CO432 Intercultural Communication (3)
Students will learn the theory and research about communicating with various cultures, races and ethnicities. This course will provide insight into norms, values, beliefs and practices in various cultures. Major goals of this class will be to understand, adapt, and appreciate communication with different cultures, races, ethnicities. Ultimately, the focus and outcome is to improve one’s intercultural communication competence, both verbal and nonverbal in various intercultural situations. While we will cover various cultures, races, ethnicities, students will develop an in-depth project on one particular culture, race, ethnicity. Counts toward the International Cultures & Structures requirement.
HM320 Poverty (3)
This course is designed to expand students’ awareness and understanding of poverty. This course will particularly examine the nature and extent of poverty that exists within the United States. Particular attention will be given to the views of poverty, characteristics of poverty population, and causes of poverty and government policies that address poverty. Focus on understanding the impact of poverty related to children and families, women, older adults and the working poor. Pre-requisites: HM 214 or consent of instructor.
SO305 Social Psychology (3)
Systematic study of social behavior of the individual as well as the group. Social perception, motivation, learning, attitudes and values. Dynamics of social groups. Emphasis on research methods and projects. Cross-listed with PS305. Pre-requisite: SO100.

Learning Goals

Students will use various visual communication techniques and software to generate designs and prototypes.

Students will learn to evaluate a problem from various interdisciplinary approaches individually and in groups in anticipation for leading businesses towards creative and innovative solutions.

Students will develop an understanding of human behavior as it is affected by societal or environmental issues, and use that knowledge to compassionately design products, services, or systems that aim to improve lives and/or dissolve issues.

Design Thinking Minor - 22 credits

Core (13 credits)

  • AT 110 Intro to Digital Media (3) or AR 201 Computer Art & Design Orientation (3)
  • MK200. Principles of Marketing (3)
  • SO100. Intro to Sociology - (3) 
  • ET260. Designing Your Life (1) 
  • ET383. Innovation Lab (3)

Choose 9 credit hours from the Following.

You must have a three credit (300 level or higher) class from each category. 


Business/Leadership Electives 

  • MG345. Leading Organizational Change (3)
  • MK308. Consumer Behavior & Analytics (3) 
  • MG300. People & Performance (3)
  • ET340. Foundations of Entrepreneurship (3)
  • ET380 The Art of Entrepreneurship (3)
  • ET333 Global Social Entrepreneurship (3)
  • MG375. Project Management (3) - pre req. MG275
  • OL300. Self-Leadership (3)
  • OL310. Group and Team Dynamics (3)
  • OL344. Organizational Leadership (3)
  • OL385. Leadership, Diversity, and Multi-Culturalism (3)
  • Ol306. Organizational Behavior (3)
  • Other approved Business Topics Course

Design Electives 

  • AR327. Computer Art & Design: Creative Concepts (3)
  • EN305. Web Publishing (3)
  • AT320. Motion Graphics Animation (3)
  • AT3xx. Interface Design and Data Visualization (3)
  • AR325. Branding & Package Design (3)
  • AT366. Topics in Interactive Media (3) 
  • Other approved Design Topics Course

Social Science Electives 

  • SO320. Social Stratification (3)
  • SO330. Sociology of Gender (3) 
  • SO365. Sociology of Globalization (3)
  • SO390. Environmental Sociology (3)
  • SO313. Multiculturalism & Diversity (3)
  • CO332. Gender Communication (3)
  • CO432. Intercultural Communication (3)
  • HM320. Poverty (3)
  • SO305. Social Psychology (3)
  • Other approved  Social Science Topics Course

* It is advised but not required that students take BU230 Business Conversations when selecting a course to meet their Oral Communication general education requirement. 

* It is advised but not required that students take ET383 Innovation Lab after they have completed all other classes in the minor or along with other classes in that final semester.

"The classes I've taken through the Design Thinking minor have taught me creative problem solving. Every situation's answer is not going to be black and white, but sometimes you have to work to create a new solution." ~ Taylor Isaia. Read More About Her Experience in the minor.



Design is so much more than craft. It is also strategy. Combine this with technology and that can lead to innovation.




Learn tactics in management or leadership and be the one that ensures that design thinking is used in all major decisions.


Social Sciences


Design Thinking starts by being empathetic to others and understanding how people interact with each other and institutions.

Is This Minor Right For Me?

Are you interested in helping organizations design products or systems that meet the needs of people? Do you enjoy thinking about design strategy and innovation? Are you interested in improving your management and leadership skills? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are ready to Make it Millikin!