Collaborative Innovation Minor

The Minor in Collaborative Innovation offers students a dynamic catalyst for process-based, cross-disciplinary collaboration and learning between various academic departments in Arts & Letters, and wider disciplinary interests across the university. The Minor seeks to build a strong core competency in design thinking and collaborative innovation to meet the growing demand for this skill among these various communities, attracting broad and diverse student enrollment and re-establishing the primacy of a humanistic, collaborative approach to the complex problems and integrated challenges facing a rapidly changing world.

The Minor offers a five-course sequence starting with Design Matters, a large, introductory, lecture-based design-thinking. Declared minors will then cycle through a series of four additional courses introducing students to the various skillsets implicated in design thinking including research methods, visualization, and entrepreneurship. The Minor culminates in the capstone course Collaborative Product Development, bringing the minor’s various disciplines (1st majors) together in fruitful collaboration with design majors to address industry sponsored projects addressing real world questions. Working in teams with corporate partners, students will get a chance to solve a variety of problems—from global distribution to product innovation to community outreach.

Design thinking is a dynamic, iterative, and deeply human process that prepares students for the type of collaborative, cross-disciplinary work they will encounter after graduation—no matter what career paths they pursue. Established companies and entrepreneurs in fields as diverse as healthcare, sustainability, education, urban planning, and economic development are increasingly employing design thinking methodology to produce innovative results.

Design Matters poster

Notre Dame's collaborative innovation program welcomes a broad and diverse group of students, from within the College of Arts and Letters, as well as from business, science, engineering, and architecture—all of whom play a vital role in bringing successful solutions to fruition.

The gateway course, Design Matters: Introduction to Design Thinking, features a hybrid seminar format with lectures and case studies followed by hands-on exercises and practical applications of design thinking methodology in the form of team projects.

Required Courses and Components

Completion of the Collaborative Innovation minor in AAHD will require 15 credit hours.

Declaration of the Minor will require enrollment in or completion of DESN 20203 (Design Matters). Students may contact the department Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Innovation Minor’s Director for information, or declare the Minor in the department office. Design majors will not be permitted to declare in the Minor.

1. GATEWAY -  Introduction


Introduction • Foundation • Creativity • Critical Thinking • Communication • Collaboration

DESN 20203 – Design Matters
Introduction to Design Thinking

Articulate the tenets of the design thinking methods and apply methodologies to identify problems and developing service, product and experience solutions.

2. IDEATION - Design, brainstorming

Rapid Visualization is a prerequisite for ID1: Intro to Product Development and suggested for Digital Solid Modeling

VCD1: Fundamentals is a prerequisite for VCD7 and VCD8

Select one of the following:

DESN 20200 – Rapid Visualization
Principles of visual ideation

A studio course introducing rapid sketching, rendering and presentation techniques as a tool for development, refinement and tangible communicating of concepts, ideas, objects and stories to others.

DESN 20101 – VCD 1: Fundamentals of Design*
Principles of visual expression

Creating, planning and executing ideas and experiences with visual and textual content, physical or virtual, including images, words, or graphic forms.

3. INSPIRATION- Research, discovery, reframing

DESN 20204 – Design Research Practices
Principles of user-centered research

Overview of design research methodologies, planning strategies, interviewing, observing and participatory techniques, and data analysis and synthesis for the development of insights and implications informing the
development process.

4. IMPLEMENTATION – Prototyping, delivery

Select one of the following:

DESN 20201 – ID 1: Intro to Product Development*
Forms & Physical Model Development

DESN 30209 - ID Digital Solid Modeling
3D CAD Modeling and Rapid Prototyping

DESN 20120 – VCD 3: Web Design
Web-interactivity for desktop & mobile

DESN 30140 - VCD 7: Interaction Design
User Interface and Interaction

DESN 40100 - VCD 8: Social Design: Initiatives, Challenges & Innovation
Visual Communication for change

5. CAPSTONE – Putting it all together

DESN 40201 - Collaborative Design Development
Cross-Disciplinary Problem Solving

Industry-sponsored design briefs to challenge interdisciplinary teams to deploy design thinking for successful innovation and implementation.

*Department approval required to override prerequisite


Advising will be done by the faculty associated with the Innovation program in consultation with the department’s DUS.

Learn More

For more information, contact Ann-Marie Conrado or Richard Gray.