“It’s So Wonderful Having Different Majors Working Together”: the Development of an Interdisciplinary Design Thinking Minor

This is a practitioner-oriented article that describes lessons learned from the process of creating the BYU Design Thinking minor. In it we discuss the growing interest in interdisciplinary teaching at the university-level, and how we developed our minor though the collaboration of four departments in four different colleges. We conclude by providing three suggestions for others interested in developing programs similar to ours. This article is an example of how I have connected my scholarship with my professional faculty responsibilities, specifically my responsibility to plan program innovations.


Traditionally, university students’ education is siloed into disconnected courses and programs. Increasingly, however, there is a trend toward providing interdisciplinary learning experiences to help students develop meaningful skills for becoming more successful in their chosen careers. In this paper, we describe an instructional design project in which we engaged to develop an interdisciplinary minor in design thinking at a university in the western United States. This effort involved uniting faculty from the colleges of education, business, fine arts and communications, and engineering and technology. After reviewing our needs analysis process, we describe the structure of the minor itself, and how it was designed to respond to our analysis. We also discuss the following lessons learned throughout our project: (1) common vision is the beginning, not the end, of interdisciplinary design thinking; (2) personal relationships are crucially important in interdisciplinary design thinking; and (3) iterative prototyping improves interdisciplinary design thinking. Using principles such as those discussed in this paper, we believe the field of instructional design can help lead the way in the development of additional interdisciplinary learning experiences in higher education.

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McDonald, J. K., West, R. E., Rich, P. J., & Pfleger, I. (2019). “It’s so wonderful having different majors working together”: The development of an interdisciplinary design thinking minor. TechTrends,63(4), 440-450. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0325-2

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