Modeling Complexity

This course introduces students to visual techniques to translate complex topics into models, diagrams and frameworks as an effective means of taming wicked content into a knowable, sharable conception of a topic.

This skill is increasingly important as many problems that designers are wrestling with involve large-scale problem definition. And include subjects and characteristics too large or numerous to conceptualize using memory and cognition alone.

Learning Objectives
While simple models and frameworks often emerge naturally from design work, truly complex topics are difficult to bound and represent without theories and approaches to guide the process. Throughout this course students will be introduced to:

  • A range of visual models and approaches for representing complex content
  • A structured process for translating dense topics into coherent visual representations
  • Principles of visual design to optimize the reading experience of a complex model


Learning Outcomes
Students emerge from this course:

  • Conversant with a variety of models and insight as to how to match various types of models to different kinds of complexity
  • Experienced in the mapping of complex topics with first-hand knowledge of the benefits and challenges of this approach
  • Equipped to negotiate ambiguous topics, build relevant structures, and navigate issues of scope and content development
Managing Interdisciplinary Teams Design Connoisseurship Engaging Stakeholders in Innovation Special Topics Faculty Research Design Process and Knowledge Making the User Centered Case
Modeling Complexity Theories of Communication Fundamentals of Visual Communication Advanced Diagramming Metaphor and Analogy in Design Diagram Development Communication Strategies Communication Design Workshop
Extensions of Media and Technology Interactive Space Interaction Design for Embedded Systems Interaction Design for Immersive Systems Prototyping Interactions Persuasive Interaction Design History of Interaction Design Interaction Design Methods Digital Development Workshop Interaction Design Workshop
Planning + Strategy
Designing Futures Adaptive Leadership Strategies for Open Innovation Organizational Models for Innovation Social and Economic Context of Design New Venture Design Innovation Methods Planning Implementation Business Models and Value Webs Business Frameworks and Strategy Design Planning Workshop Introduction to Portfolio Planning
Design Development & Implementation Product Architecture and Platforms Form and Materials New Product Definition Product Design Workshop
Systems and Systems Theory in Design Networked Objects Networked Cities Human System Integration Systems Modeling and Prototyping Platform-based Design Strategy Systems Approach to Design Information Structuring and Management Structured Planning Workshop Service Systems Workshop
User Research
Stimulus in Design Research Behavioral Economics Online Research Methods Principles and Methods of User Research Coding and Analysis Co-Design and Participatory Research Methods Survey Methods Cultural Probes Experience Modeling Interview Methods Research Photography Research Planning & Execution