Next Friday is thesis paper presentation day, where each second-year graduate student has 10 minutes to present his or her thesis paper and five minutes to be interrogated about it. This is a major milestone of this year. Lucky me, I get to present first!

In preparation, I had to submit the thesis title and abstract for the program. This was difficult because, while I have around 8,000 words written, the argument as a whole is still being shaped. Naturally, I spent the whole day coming up with the title and the 250-word abstract, finishing exactly at 5 pm. Or you might say that in typical designer fashion, I worked solidly until the absolute last second tweaking it.

Here’s the final tweak.

The Thinking Behind Design

For the past several hundred years, science and humanities have enjoyed prominence in our culture and education. Science and a scientific approach to solving problems have received bias in our educational systems and our work. But increasingly, design is being recognized as a valuable approach to solving complex problems and creating inventive solutions. However, understanding what designers do—the thinking behind design—is not fully understood. Design is still often thought of as a black art rather than a rigorous discipline. If design is to advance as a discipline, understanding design thinking becomes paramount. Design is a relationship between the design way of thinking, the process of carrying out that thinking, and the embodiment of the thinking and the process within the designer. The process of developing design thinking is a design process in itself. It therefore may behoove designers to recognize designing oneself as a designer as fundamental to improving design ability. Understanding design thinking will also help designers articulate their value and communicate what is it they actually do in a way that demystifies the process and instills a sense of trust in their solutions. This paper examines how designers think and the relationship between design thinking and the design process to better understand what designers do, the rigor of their process, and the value of skilled designers.

And if you want to compare, here are the previous iterations: