Design Forge

Design Forge is Elon’s annual convening of design thinking educators, practitioners and thought leaders. Each year, Design Forge addresses a topic of interest to higher education, strengthens collaboration in the design thinking community and searches for new opportunities for design thinking to enhance student learning.

March 13-15, 2024

Design for Wellbeing

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Like in prior years, we will spend time together exploring the how-might-we question in an environment that is part design and part convening, launching new relationships and generating questions, resources, ideas, and frameworks that advance the value and impact of design thinking practices.

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See us on Today at Elon


The conference is for educators, design practitioners, changemakers, and thought leaders



Designing opportunities for higher education to more inclusively and collaboratively address wicked problems


Strengthen collaboration between communities & search for opportunities for DT to enhance transformational learning


Opening Keynote: Designing with, in, and for Bodies

Andrea Mecquel, Icahn School of Medicine & Rafe H. Steinhauer, Thayer School of Engineering Dartmouth
How might harnessing awareness of our innate bodily sensory system, interoception, help us design and educate towards greater equity and fuller human-centeredness? This system, whether we are conscious of it or not, is already shaping our decisions and experiences; thus, how might learning to observe and interpret it give us truer choices and more freedom. After a brief introduction to interoception and its potential applications in design and in higher education, Andrea Mecquel and Rafe Steinhauer will lead the group through a series of experiences that will serve as a brief glimpse into how centering the body, and all bodies, in our work is of paramount importance if we are to co-create honest–and equitable–objects, spaces, cultures and experiences.
More About Andrea Mecquel (“Mecquel”) and Rafe Steinhauer (“Rafe”)
Mecquel is a kinesthetic practitioner and researcher investigating the intersections of interoception, psychology, embodied cognition, mindfulness, and movement and their applications within design, education, leadership, and the arts. Her curricula include embodied experiences to cultivate well-being, self-efficacy, resilience, creativity, collaboration, empathy, and problem-solving. She also leads teams in effective communication, developing emotional and social intelligence and relationships at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Informed by psychology, contemplative practice, and somatic education, Mecquel bridges kinesthetic experience and practical application for dynamic integration and systems repatterning. She has a master’s in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Ph.D. student in Clinical Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NY, researching therapeutic and educational applications of interoception.
Rafe is an educator, father, and sports-enthusiast. Professionally, he is most interested in the design of education and the education of design. At Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering, Rafe is an Instructional Assistant Professor where he teaches: an introductory undergraduate course on Design Thinking; the capstone Engineering Design course for B.E.s; a continuing ed alumni course on Life in the 21st Century (and Various Subtopics); and he has a new course on the intersections of Design and Education in the works. His Studio for Emergent Education Design publishes novel lesson plans and other educational materials (website forthcoming). Rafe also helps run a grant program that supports any instructor at Dartmouth to reimagine a unit of their course–and deepen learning objectives–with a design project. You can read Rafe’s latest personal teaching statement here and his thoughts about the future of higher education at the outset of lockdown here.

Day One Closing Keynote: Creating Spaces of Connection and Belonging through Design Thinking

Shanice Webb,  Life Design Lab Stanford University
Embark on a 90-minute design sprint that will unlock the potential of design thinking to foster spaces of connection and belonging. As students, faculty, staff and administrators, you have the power to shape environments that bring people together, spark meaningful interactions, and cultivate a sense of belonging. This hands-on Design Forge keynote experience will guide you through the essential steps of design thinking, enabling you to take one small action step for designing connection and inclusivity in your spaces.
More About Shanice Webb
Meet Shanice Webb, a Lecturer & Fellow in the Life Design Lab at Stanford University, where she designs curricula and teaches life design courses with a focus on equity and inclusion. She is also a certified Designing Your Life workshop provider and the founder of Designing Black Experiences.
With a background in health and wellness, Shanice is on a mission to help humans design lives of balance, meaning, and success. She has spent the last 8 years teaching, facilitating, and designing learning experiences that center community and radical collaboration.
Shanice is a self-described realist, feeling most at home when she is able to bring her true, authentic self into a space. You can often find her longboarding around Oakland, attempting to find the perfect churro in the Bay, and spending time with her husband and new baby, Atlas.

Closing Keynote: Designing with and for Joy

Eugene Korsunskiy, Associate Professor of Engineering, Dartmouth College
Why does it sometimes feel that “fun,” “delight,” and “play” are dirty words in academia? The culture of higher education seems to be built on the idea that joy and rigor are incompatible, and that joy does not belong in a “serious” place of study. Let’s buck that notion! We know that we do our best work when we’re having fun, and that our students learn best when they’re having fun. In this session, we’ll explore practical ways to integrate joy into our projects, inspiring students and fostering creativity. We’ll explore the power of playfulness to create transformative learning experiences, bringing joy to our classrooms, teams, and personal projects to make design education even more delightful!
More About Eugene Korsunskiy
Eugene is an Associate Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth College, where he teaches courses on human-centered design. Prior to Dartmouth, he taught at Stanford University’s, where he helped to develop the “Designing Your Life” curriculum.
Eugene is Co-Director of the Design Initiative at Dartmouth, and the Executive Director of the Future of Design in Higher Education, a global community of practice dedicated to creating and disseminating best practices in design pedagogy at universities around the world. Eugene has an MFA in Design from Stanford University and a BA in Art & Art History from Williams College. He lives in Vermont with his partner, two dogs, and three horses.

  • Design Forge 2022 | Assessing DT practices — How might we better understand, design for, & demonstrate the impact of design thinking pedagogies?

  • Design Forge 2021 |  Participatory placemaking practices — How might DT support participatory placemaking practices?
  • Design Forge 2020 |  Student wellbeing and wellness — How might university design thinking efforts enhance student wellbeing and wellness?
  • Design Forge 2019 |  Learn and teach service design — How might we create better ways for people to learn and teach design thinking and service design?
  • Design Forge 2018 | DT project-based learning — How might we create ways to use design thinking projects as project-based learning? Feel free to learn more by reading the 2018 Design Forge 2018 Summary