Collaborative Innovation Minor

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Innovation For People, Thriving through Diversity and Creativity

Seeking to build a strong core competency in human-centered design thinking


Notre Dame's collaborative innovation program welcomes all students, from within the College of Arts and Letters, from business, science, engineering, and architecture. Students will encounter unique and dynamic experiences for method-based, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and learning between various academic departments, with innovation, design, and creativity as the core area of interest.

Students will be introduced to new ways to identify human-centered opportunities and problems, generate new ideas, prototype, test and develop concepts, and communicate the experiences and intent. Through the minor, you will also be exposed to additional elements, tools, and skills that professional design teams implement daily.

High Career Relevance

The design management institute identified that Design-driven companies outperform the S&P 500 by 219%. Organizations across the globe have invested in design thinking teams, methods, and mindsets as a core capability to innovate across their businesses, communities, and causes. 

The following are a selection of organizations that have embraced Design Thinking as a core competency

IBM SAP Deloitte PepsiCo Intuit
Fidelity Stryker Ford Capital One Marriott
LEGO Group Gates Foundation Cleveland Clinic Liberty Mutual BCBS

Design Matters - Human-Centered Design Thinking

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

Design Thinking is a dynamic, iterative approach to creativity and innovation that begins with human needs and desires. The approach has been widely adopted by businesses and organizations globally. Design Thinking originated from the mindset and methods used by designers to identify and solve problems through establishing empathy and making to learn. 

Creativity, Critical-Thinking, Collaboration, Communication & Curiosity

The mindset and skills amplified throughout the minor (curiosity creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and complex problem solving ) are amongst those that have been identified as critical to flourishing by the World Economic Forum, in a time of constant change, where Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) influences and outcomes are rapidly encompassing all areas of our daily lives.

Multi-disciplinary Capstone Experience

The Minor culminates in the capstone course Collaborative  Design & Development, bringing the minor’s various student disciplines together in fruitful collaboration with design majors.

The Capstone emulates a real-world consulting experience. Interdisciplinary student teams will be challenged by industry or community partners to address meaningful areas of interest. Each student will apply their own expertise derived from their major and their Collaborative Innovation Minor path. The diverse perspectives and blended capabilities serve as a catalyst for Human-Centered innovation. 


Required Courses and Components

Declaration of the Minor will require enrollment in or completion of any design course.

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.

Completion of the Collaborative Innovation Minor will require 15 credit hours.

Design majors will not be permitted to declare in the Minor, however, they may register for the Capstone Course with approval

Students can choose their learning paths within the 5-course sequence while aligning to prerequisite requirements - not all classes have to be taken in the sequence shown

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

DESN 20203 – Design Matters & DESN 21203 D Think Lab
Introduction to Design Thinking

Curiosity • Discovery • Reframing • Critical Thinking • Sense Making

Select one of the following:

DESN 30210 - Design Research Practices
Principles of user-centered research

DESN 20205 - The Anthropology of Your Stuff
Explore peoples’ relationships with their things, How material goods resonate with peoples’ identities, What stuff will people invent and sell next?

Problem-Solving • Design • Creativity

Select one of the following:

DESN 20200- ID: Rapid Visualization
Principles of visual ideation, Rapid Sketching of ideas, objects and stories, presentation and communication techniques

DESN 20101- VCD 1: Fundamentals of Design*
Principles of visual expression, Creating, planning, and with visual and textual content including images, words, or graphic forms.

NOTE: Rapid Visualization is a prerequisite for ID1: Intro to Product Development and suggested for Digital Solid Modeling*
VCD1: Fundamentals is a prerequisite for VCD3, VCD7 and VCD8

*Consult the teaching professor for considerations

Prototyping • Delivery • Communication

Select one of the following:

DESN 20201 - ID 1: Intro to Design Studio / Product Development*
Forms and physical model development

DESN 20210 - ID: Digital Solid Modeling
3D CAD modeling and rapid prototyping

DESN 21120 - VCD 3: Digital Media Design
The application of design principles and methods in digital media

DESN 30140 - VCD 7: Interaction Design
User interface and interaction

DESN 40100 - VCD 8: Social Design: Initiatives, Challenges, and Innovation
Visual communication for change

Curiosity • Creativity • Critical Thinking • Communication • Collaboration

DESN 40201 - Collaborative Design & Development
Sponsored challenges, team-based semester-long project. Cross-disciplinary problem-solving through a human-centered approach 

*Department approval required to override prerequisite

**Alternate courses may be considered if they meet the requirement of the minor - Consult the Director of the Collaborative Innovation Minor


Advising will be conducted by the Director of the Collaborative Innovation Minor program in consultation with the department’s DUS.

Learn More

For more information, contact Ann-Marie Conrado, Director of Collaborative Innovation Minor.




The Minor pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to be more creative and empathetic in all aspects of my life/career!"

-  Sydnye Nosbusch, University of Notre Dame 2020, Neuroscience & Behavior | Collaborative Innovation


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Design Matters is by far the best class I have taken at Notre Dame so far”

- Megan Rogers,
Degree: BA, Business Admin. , Mendoza

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"The Collaborative Innovation Minor provided me with real-world tangible experiences  that  will make me successful in my future"

 - Abigail Dolan, Class of 2020

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