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This paper explores the discourse needed to both institute a Ph.D. in Design and face the challenges of contemporary technologies. Concerning these challenges, it draws on a recent history of paradigmatic design problems, and argues that we are in transition from a culture that is dominated by science (modernism), to one that embraces design as its primary organizing feature (constructivism). To this end, it offers several propositions of an epistemologically informed and, hence, human-centered philosophy for design. Concerning a Ph.D. in Design, the paper opposes modeling this degree on the tradition of scientific research and suggests instead that design scholarship address improvements of design practices. It culminates in a sketch of what a human-centered design discourse might embrace.
Ph.D. dissertations should reflect on and contribute to the practices of the community that grants the degree. The paper demonstrates both and invites Ph.D. scholarship to continue along this path.
Date Posted: 06 October 2010