Skip to Main Content
of desiGn

PhD Philosophical Context of Design Research



Credit Hours


This course surveys the major philosophies and theories that underpin design research through exposure to some of the most significant scholars and public intellectuals of the last 100 years.

Specifically, the following perspectives and traditions will be discussed: pragmatism, structuralism, activity theory, phenomenology, actor-network theory, theories of culture and symbolic interaction. For example, what do these traditions offer the field of design and how might we advance these perspectives through design practice? How have these different philosophical traditions become embedded in current philosophies of design research and work?

Learning Objectives

Students will become familiar with key philosophical traditions in order to provide a strong basis for their individual research. Emphasis is placed on surveying different traditions in order to understand their strengths and weaknesses as well as their historical and current contributions to the field of design.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will become familiar with philosophical traditions from different disciplines in the social sciences
  • Students will develop their own perspective on the theoretical approach that they may pursue in their individual research
  • Students will gain exposure to leading scholars in the social sciences that have made some of the most significant philosophical contributions in the past 100 years