Human-Centered Design + the Hive

Human-centered design(HCD) is a liberal arts discipline rooted in Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Behavioral Economics, Art, Improvisational Theater and Engineering. Its core is the ability to empathize, define specific human needs, generate large numbers of ideas to meet these needs, create successive prototypes, and test the prototypes to learn more about what is really needed. Human-centered designers fall in love with problems rather than solutions and expect to be wrong before they create something truly worthwhile.

Human-centered design teams navigate between the real and the abstract and between understanding and making. Human-centered design requires a collaboration between experts in multiple disciplines. It is sometimes referred to as Design Thinking and is best applied to ambiguous problems that do not have “right” answers.

The Hive has been teaching a full for credit class in Human-centered design (Harvey Mudd Engineering 180) each semester for the past 2½ years. Students enrolled in roughly equal numbers from all five of the Claremont Colleges. In the class, students work in teams on real-world challenges which have ranged from redesigning the library experience to redesigning the disaster preparation experience for a marginalized group. (Full list of class projects below). Students work in groups, often with five different majors and from five different colleges. Whereas groups of engineers are likely to produce engineering solutions, and economists produce economic solutions, diverse teams have the greatest chance of producing breakthrough solutions. Participating on a diverse team and utilizing a human-centered mindset can be an extraordinary opportunity for students. It is an opportunity that prepares them to work on diverse interdisciplinary teams across a wide range of fields after graduation.