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Bringing Life Design to TCU

“What do you want to do when you graduate?” This is the most pressing question for most college students. Despite spending years preparing to get into college, many students find themselves a little lost when it comes to planning what they want to do both in and out of college.

Enter design thinking. Design thinking (also known as human centered design) is a framework for creative problem solving that is used by companies and organizations to tackle their most wicked problems. And two professors at Stanford University used design thinking to create an elective called “designing your life” to help students think through their plans. Fast forward to 2020 and Bill Burnett and Dave Evans have published a book, workbook and workshops aimed at helping people of all walks of life and all ages (from high school students to retirees). Stanford’s Hasso Plattner School of Design created the Life Design lab which helps colleges and universities design workshops and classes to help students design a happy and productive life.

This summer, IdeaFactory (Stacy Grau and Cedric James) and Alcon Career Center (Jessica Cates) traveled to Stanford to participate in the Life Design studio as part of their largest cohort to date. We spent two days designing our own life using the design thinking tools and techniques from Stanford’s D School. We spent the next two days developing prototypes for our school. Here at TCU we have created a one credit course called IDEA 30001 Life Design that we are teaching this spring and will teach summer and fall 2020.

In an effort to learn from each other, teams from TCU, SMU, University of Arkansas and Texas A&M Commerce gathered at TCU in December to share best practices about what we have tried and learned. It was inspiring to see how much progress each team had made with their prototypes and how much we were able to learn. We plan to continue to meet annually (next year at University of Arkansas) and add other schools to our regional meeting.

Are you interested in taking the class? Email us at and look for the yard signs in April 2020 about course times and dates. We have designed it to fit with any schedule (it is one credit, meets once a week for two hours and is only 8 weeks long).