Image: Lesley Sager, faculty associate in design studies, talks with undergraduate student Laurel Pierskalla during Design Studies 341 in the UW–Madison Makerspace.
The School of Human Ecology is one of five schools and colleges at UW–Madison collaborating to offer a new, accelerated Master of Science degree in Design + Innovation. The program answers a stated need from employers for better creative and problem-solving skills in job candidates and also builds on the top-notch resources of the university to craft a uniquely interactive student experience.
Michelle Kwasny, the program’s academic director with an appointment in SoHE’s Design Studies department, says, “Students can come in and dabble in all five areas of study—engineering, business, design, data, and art—but they can also dig deeper in any one of those areas to complement experience they already have.”
John Zeratsky, a SoHE alum as well as an author and entrepreneur, affirmed the importance of this field to the 21st-century economy: “The emergence of design as a cross-disciplinary tool is relatively new and rapidly evolving. By creating a completely new program around this emergent need and opportunity, UW–Madison is poised to offer the latest and best thinking on how design can benefit industry and the public sector.”
With enrollment open and the first cohort matriculating in May 2020, the 12-month, on-campus program is a joint effort of SoHE, the College of Engineering, the Wisconsin School of Business, the Art Department in the School of Education, and the iSchool in the College of Letters and Science.
“The School of Human Ecology is a natural partner on this degree,” says SoHE Dean Soyeon Shim. “For more than 100 years, we have worked across disciplines to collaboratively solve real-world problems and anticipate and get ahead of future ones, all with an aim and a track record of making life better in our communities. This accelerated master’s degree is one more way we will do this work, and we are thrilled to lead on it.”