Ecosystem of Human Ecology

Just a few short weeks ago the University of Wisconsin-Madison conferred Bachelors of Science degrees upon 253 undergraduate students, and MFA, MS., and Ph.D degrees on 12 graduate students from the School of Human Ecology. I am proud that they are well prepared to help people around the country – Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Seattle – and around the globe – Peru, Ethiopia, Botswana. The class of 2014 graduate paths include financial advisors, community and non-profit development managers, product developers, child development specialists, interior architects and others equally committed to improving life for families, communities and the marketplace. This is the first cohort to be intentionally trained for their next phase of life using design thinking as the backbone for solving problems – for business, community, health and well-being.

Simply put, design thinking is a process for answering research questions and educating students

Using these five steps (as developed by Stanford d. School and IDEO):

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test

As noted in the Wall Street Journal scholars and business practitioners at prestigious schools and colleges around the country have begun to employ design thinking, and yet very few of these schools focus on the health and well-being of consumers, families and communities. Human Ecology has been doing this for more than a century. After all, design thinking isn’t new to the fields of interior design, personal finance, human development or apparel design – it  begins with people. We are all connected.  Family to community, consumer to retailer, designer to end-user, student to faculty. And now students become alumni who are well-prepared to make their impact on the world. Life is a network and the way we connect with each other, and with our environments, has a powerful effect on the quality of our lives. Congratulations Class of 2014, you will do amazing things.

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