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Designing the Future With Humans in Mind

“Make it important. Make it exciting.” That’s what Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla told Don Norman when he un-retired to return to UC San Diego and start the Design Lab. The lab launched in 2014 as an interdisciplinary, university-wide endeavor dedicated to “human-centered design thinking” – applying the science and practice of design to the complex social-technical system problems confronting us, in health, transportation, the environment and more. One area of research is on the role of automation, putting the focus on human-technology teamwork. 

Making the World Work Better

“Design is not about making something look pretty. It’s about making the world work better,” Norman told the Union-Tribune. Norman is founding chair of our Department of Cognitive Science (the world’s first). He intends the Design Lab at UC San Diego to drive innovation, ­both incremental and radical.  The aim, he says, is no less than to “attack the critical problems in society.” With Vox, he spoke about a simply, daily problem, though -- bad doors:

Linking Theory to Action

The world faces a host of complex challenges, and most of these have a social dimension – even in areas that are traditionally thought of as the purview of other disciplines. And that’s what we work on. In the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences, we link theory to action. Our social scientists are striving to make the world work better – and designing or redesigning the future with humans in mind. Whether at the Design Lab, the Center on Global Justice or the Center for Environmental Economics, faculty and student scholars throughout our broad and innovative division are evaluating what works, what doesn’t, and implementing research-based solutions.