Courses Offered

Recent, current and forthcoming courses in Health Sciences Design (HSD) and are listed below, along with courses offered from partner programs in collaboration with HSD.

A star (★) indicates a course that is expected to be available in the Fall 2024 semester. Please visit the Student Center Class Search page or the UArizona Course Catalog and Schedule of Classes to view the most current information on HSD classes, and please visit UAccess Student Center to register.

Core Courses

Health Sciences Design Core Courses are open to any student on campus who is interested in exploring human-centered approaches to meeting health care needs. With foundational curriculum centered in design thinking experiences, Core Courses employ next-generation education to prepare students to build and lead the future.

HSD 401
Design for Health Workshop: Addressing Human Health Challenges with Design Thinking

In this General Education Building Connections course, you will gain creative confidence and hands-on problem-solving experience. You will work on addressing health seekers’ needs within the healthcare system, which will require you to apply the design thinking process—Notice, Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, and Reflect—to understand and clearly define the real (as opposed to the perceived) need, explore design options/concepts, analyze options, prototype your design, and pitch your design recommendation and implementation plan. Using project-based learning techniques, this experiential learning course will enable you to learn about a subject through the experience of exploring an open-ended, student-driven topic in healthcare delivery and patient-centered service experiences. Appropriate for undergraduate students in any discipline, through enhanced group collaboration, you will build intellectual and practical skills in inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, teamwork, and problem solving. An Honors section is available for this course.

HSD 501
Design for Health Workshop: Addressing Human Health Challenges with Design Thinking

In this course, you will gain creative confidence and hands-on problem-solving experience. You will work on addressing health seekers’ needs within the healthcare system, which will require you to apply the design thinking process—Notice, Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, and Reflect—to understand and clearly define the real (as opposed to the perceived) need, explore design options/concepts, analyze options, prototype your design, and pitch your design recommendation and implementation plan. Using project-based learning techniques, this experiential learning course will enable you to learn about a subject through the experience of exploring an open-ended, student-driven topic in healthcare delivery and patient-centered service experiences. Appropriate for graduate students in any discipline, through enhanced interdisciplinary group collaboration, you will build intellectual and practical skills in inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, teamwork, and problem solving.

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HSD 410/510
Device Design in the Health Sciences: Developing Tools for Health Care Solutions using Design Thinking

In this course, you will work in an interdisciplinary team of your peers to gain hands-on experience developing devices for application in the health sciences. Your team will broadly aim to develop devices to address and improve health seekers’ experiences within the health care system. The course will be organized so that you learn to apply the design thinking process — Notice, Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test and Reflect — to understand and clearly define the real need, explore design options/concepts, analyze options, prototype your design, and pitch your design recommendation and implementation plan.

Using project-based learning techniques, this experiential learning course will enable you to learn about a subject through the experience of exploring an open-ended, student-driven topic in health care delivery and patient-centered service experiences. Appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students, through enhanced group collaboration and in a makerspace learning environment, you will build intellectual and practical skills in inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, design and prototyping, written and oral communication, teamwork and problem solving.

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HSD 420/520
Healthy Design Practices: From the Makerspace to the Community

This course is a studio-based course and takes place in the Health Sciences Design Makerspace. Students will use this site to explore design thinking, rapid prototyping, computer modeling, traditional and digital fabrication and more within their work. This course provides a thorough overview of “making” practices centered around health and design. Students will embark on a confidence-building study of the Makerspace, its constituent technologies, processes, and culture in order to understand and develop healthy making practices. Through practicals and design briefs, students will be challenged to produce meaningful contributions both as individuals and in trans-disciplinary teams. These works will be reviewed in group critiques and personal reflections. This course welcomes all undergraduate and graduate students in any discipline to become healthy making practitioners. An Honors section is available for HSD 420.

HSD 495/595
Design Visualization Practices for Health: From Speculations to Resolutions

This course is studio-based and takes place in the Health Sciences Design Visualization space. Students will use this site to explore design thinking, digital making, computer modeling, rendering, and simulation within their work. This course provides an overview of visualization practices centered around health and design. Students will embark on a confidence-building study of the field of design visualization, its constituent technologies, processes, and culture to understand and develop design visualization practices. Through practicals and design briefs, students will be challenged to produce meaningful contributions both as individuals and in trans-disciplinary teams. These works will be reviewed in group critiques and personal reflections. This course welcomes all undergraduate and graduate students in any discipline to become visualization practitioners.

Student Success and Professional Readiness Courses

Student Success and Professional Readiness Courses are taught by HSD's Core and Affiliated Faculty, but course subjects are not specific to HSD. They are open to students regardless of their program and relevant to a broad range of student experiences and professional competencies.

HSD 649
Survival Skills and Ethics

This course is designed for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. It provides information and experiences that will aid in successful "survival" during the graduate-student years and those following graduation. Topics include effective speaking and writing, grantspersonship, mentoring, teaching and career options, among others. Discussion of ethical issues and resources is integrated across topics.

Participatory Research and Design Courses

HSD's Participatory Research and Design Courses employ immersive learning and systems thinking to understand and address complex problems and their root causes. Using an interprofessional approach, these courses engage students in advanced simulation or direct collaboration with communities to  provide opportunities to develop core competencies in clinical care, community action, service leadership, crisis management, threat assessment, public policy and other key areas — as well as opportunities to deepen their understanding of communities that are directly affected by disasters, inhospitable conditions and/or systemic and structural barriers to community resilience and health justice.

HSD / NURS 250
JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) Health Equity: Connection, Community & Healing in Urgent Times

In this course, students explore the intersectionality of healthcare, community engagement and the role of a Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) framework in achieving health equity. This course will address the most pressing issues challenging the health of people through building connections and critically analyzing issues of health inequity from the distinct perspectives of healthcare and the lived experiences of the community. The JEDI framework will enable us to see how issues such as racism, environmental degradation and the emergence of novel pathogens are interconnected, and how the ethics of health equity and community-building can help us heal our communities and ourselves using collective action. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to critically analyze issues of health inequity from an interdisciplinary and multifaceted approach while engaging in experiential service-learning projects within the community.

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HSD 431/531
MILAGRO Collaborative: Addressing Migration in the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands

The MILAGRO (Migration Interprofessional Leading to Action and Growth) Collaborative course will provide students with the opportunity to participate in a collaborative response to address migration in the borderlands of Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico. The course is taught by an interprofessional group of faculty and staff, who represent all four Tucson-based University of Arizona Health Sciences (UAHS) colleges, in partnership with the Casa Alitas Migrant Welcome Center and other community partners. Through community engagement and experiential learning, the course focuses on analyzing the evolving root causes of migration and the relative impact of effective public policy, exploring social determinants of health and the role of volunteers in supporting migrant communities, and developing interprofessional perspectives across health-related disciplines/practices. As part of the learning experience, students volunteer with a local migrant shelter to provide basic services to migrant families.

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HSD 496/596
Simulation and Survival: An Immersive Educational Introduction to Threat Assessment, Emergency Planning, and Survival in the Uncertainty of the 21st Century

The goal of any institutions of higher learning is to prepare its students for life. However, most authorities agree that humanity will likely reach an “existential bottleneck” in the next 50 years or less. Preparation for life increasingly means that the individual must develop a solid fund of knowledge as well as survival and creative problem-solving skillsets to adequately prepare themselves, their families and their communities to face the challenges of a human-made or natural disaster and ensure their survival in an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable world. Students will be presented with seminar-style didactic, along with hands-on training using the ASTEC lab for learning wilderness medicine and survival tactics, techniques and equipment. Two optional weekend overnight field trips are tentatively planned that focus on desert bushcraft and primitive survival skills. By the end of the course, students will be asked to show proficiency in any three of the following areas: (1) emergency planning and evacuation; (2) emergency shelter; (3) emergency water preparation, filtration and storage; (4) emergency wilderness medicine; (5) telecoms and signaling in grid collapse; (6) logistics and tactics in survival scenarios; and (7) medical aspects of wilderness emergency medicine.

HPS 595 002
Alamos Global Telehealth Course and Rotation

This global health course and rotation will provide students the opportunity to work in interprofessional teams in partnership with Clinica Integral Almas in Alamos, Mexico, using a telehealth framework. This course will increase knowledge and application of global health concepts, indigenous health practices, the utilization of community health workers (CHWs) in health care delivery, telehealth competencies and rural health promotion. Utilizing telehealth as a means of health care delivery and clinical training, students will interact with and learn from health care providers in Mexico and the United States, while partnering with CHWs in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico to address individual and population health needs in their communities.

International practice provides a framework for a more comprehensive examination of how health and wellness are impacted by global issues such as climate change, violence and migration, and how partnerships between communities in differing countries can increase understanding of common health challenges and lead to innovative solutions. Students, faculty, and staff from the University of Arizona, Southeast Arizona Health Education Center (SEAHEC), Clinica Integral Almas and members of the indigenous communities will work together using a shared decision-making model for health promotion and health care delivery.

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VIP Directed Research Courses

Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) is a multidisciplinary program that engages students in research, creative inquiry and service learning in faculty-led project teams. VIP focuses on experiential education that prepares students for the interprofessional collaboration that will drive the 4th Industrial Revolution and produce equitable solutions to global grand challenges. Course numbering systems and recruitment processes vary by team, so prospective students should fill out a VIP Interest Form for more information about enrollment and team membership. The VIP Interest Form also provides current information on which teams are currently full or accepting new students.

AI for Medical Interviewing

In this hands-on research and design course, students will collaborate to discover methods of improving patient-provider interactions with artificial intelligence (AI). Students will learn and apply how AI can mediate conversations in health care settings to personalize services, improve the timeliness and effectiveness of provider feedback and improve providers’ metacognitive skills. Coursework will take a design thinking approach and engage theory and concepts from adaptive teaching, machine learning, cognitive architecture, human-computer interactions and mHealth to explore ways to innovate health care in the digital age.

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Brain Communication Networks

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is a transformative approach to enhancing higher education by engaging undergraduate students in long-term, large-scale, multidisciplinary research project teams that are led by faculty. Students earn academic credits, while faculty benefit from the design/discovery efforts of their teams. These classes are: (1) embedded in faculty mentor’s scholarship and exploration, (2) projects that are long-term and large-scale, continuing for many years, (3) part of the curriculum and graded. Students earn credits toward their degree and can take the course continuously for multiple years. Learning outcomes focus on development of both disciplinary and professional skills. In essence, it is a multi-year, team-based research project where you can grow in your scientific skills, knowledge, and mindset while earning credit. You may sign up for a semester and then opt in to future semesters to continue on the projects. See what we did in the first semester of the course here: 

In the Brain Communication Networks VIP-CURE course (NSCS 397), students apply genetics, basic coding skills, flow cytometry, and protein informatics to predict and then test interactions between cell types in the brain of a simple model organism, Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). We will focus on discovering and mapping ligand-receptor pairs in the brain that are relevant for brain function, aging, and/or disease. Each team will develop and then contribute expert advice to assemble a picture of how this inter-cellular communication in the brain occurs. We will be making new scientific discoveries that we will go on to share with the public. You can join the class with one set of skills and learn the others by interacting with other teams of students in the course. Do not be intimidated, this course is for everyone!

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Characterizing the Microbiome of Shelter Animals

The overall goal of this project is to establish a baseline gut microbiome of various types of shelter animals, and then assess alterations of the gut microbiome due to the presence of different enteric pathogens, different treatments for the enteric pathogens, or other commonly given non-treatment medications like antianxiety medication. Shelter animals often have been living on the streets for long time periods and therefore commonly harbor distinctive veterinary diseases not commonly seen in household pets that will often require unique medications to treat these infections. Furthermore, the kenneling of these animals leads to high levels of anxiety, this is often mitigated with antianxiety or other types of medications.

Working with shelter animals provides a unique opportunity to address our overall goal: understanding the gut microbiome and how infection and medications impacts it allows us to develop methods to promote better health and wellbeing of shelter animals.

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Collaborative Anthropology of Reproduction and the Environment (CARE)

Social scientists of reproduction are currently studying how “climate anxiety” — or growing concern about climate change’s harmful effects — may contribute to increasingly low fertility rates in many global locations. These studies of reproductive decision-making processes are, however, largely limited to countries with low Income inequality and low ethnic diversity. The CARE VIP foregrounds the perspectives of young BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) in the Southwestern U.S. to broaden the scope of research on reproductive decision-making and climate change, both methodologically and theoretically.

Foregrounding the voices of those living in the U.S. Southwest, this project asks how young people in the United States, especially BIPOC, think about reproductive futures at a moment of climate crisis. Moreover, it asks what the climate crisis means to young people in the U.S. considering reproduction? How closely are ideas of climate linked to the natural environment, or is the climate in crisis also perceived as economic, social, and political environments? How do young adults living in the U.S. Southwest, particularly those who are racialized and minoritized, understand and anticipate the future at a moment of potential ecological, institutional, and everyday crises?

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Cultivating Equitable Food Policy in Southern Arizona

This project is a collaboration between the University of Arizona Food Systems Research Lab and the Pima County Food Alliance. Its goals are to build community relationships, convene expertise and multiple forms of knowledge, and produce evidence-based findings to address these complex challenges. The project also aims to meaningfully bolster ongoing local and regional efforts to advance food production and access, food security, food policy, and food sovereignty in ways that are long-lasting and attentive to issues of equity, justice, and overall well-being. Through surveys, focus groups, interviews, arts-based activities, and community events, the projects provides social and behavioral sciences and economic data to support community-based food initiatives and policy.

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DISCAPAZ: Disability Experiences in the Borderlands

DISCAPAZ is a multimedia project aimed at centering the voices and narratives of disabled individuals and their families living along the Arizona-Sonoran border. The project also serves as an interdisciplinary, experiential learning program that facilitates authentic engagement with border communities to address community-identified needs and amplify disabled voices in the borderlands through ongoing digital storytelling.

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Healthy Harvesters

Melanoma accounts for nearly 10% of all incident cancer cases in Arizona. While UV overexposure is the primary modifiable risk factor, obesity is also associated with increased melanoma risk and worse melanoma outcomes. Melanoma survivors are at an increased risk for second primary colorectal, breast, or prostate cancer diagnosis. Adherence to current diet and physical activity recommendations may alleviate the consequences of cancer treatment and is associated with lower cancer mortality. Current recommendations for melanoma prevention and survivorship include maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a healthy diet – yet population adherence remains low. Interventions to promote adherence are essentially non-existent for melanoma survivors and many melanoma survivors do not change their activities after treatment. As such, there is a need for tailored programs targeting synergistic cancer preventive behaviors to objectively measure personal UV exposure and programs to promote healthy lifestyles.                                                                                                         

We suggest developing a program geared towards health and community resilience through community gardening. This VIP program directly looks at the links between health and the urban and natural environments, as we work to improve the quality of life for many Arizonans. Harvest for Health, a mentored gardening program for breast cancer survivors in Alabama demonstrated high acceptability and retention as well as increased vegetable and fruit accessibility and consumption, improved physical health, and enhanced social support. Application of wearable UV sensors to monitor and provide just-in-time feedback of UV exposure may be an effective strategy to reduce sunburns and improve sun-protective behaviors for melanoma survivors in community gardening through Harvest for Health Together Arizona (H4H2-AZ). To our knowledge, this is the first study designed to improve supportive cancer care by integrating melanoma patients with existing community gardening networks and including wearable UV sensors and just-in-time feedback to evaluate impact on cancer preventive health behaviors (including diet, physical activity, energy balance, and UV protection).

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Heat, Housing, and Health+: Understanding Vulnerability and Building Resilience within Manufactured Housing Communities (H3+)

We are a research team studying the intersections of heat, housing and health. We seek up to three (3) research interns to help continue to develop and test a research protocol for assessing home thermal security (HTS) in mobile and manufactured housing (MH) communities in Arizona. HTS is the ability of a household to maintain a stable home thermal environment consistent with basic health, social, and financial needs. Little is known about the thermal conditions people experience in their homes or how the adverse and disproportionate impacts of home heat differ by race, age, gender, and housing type. As the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the United States, MH is an important housing type in which to study extreme heat, housing insecurity, and public health. Research on HTS is crucial to inform climate adaptation, heat governance, and resilience planning as well as affordable housing policy. Interns will collect preliminary data about thermal insecurity among MH households, help conduct and analyze resident interviews, attend meetings, contribute to publications, and present findings to the public and scholarly audiences.

In the project Heat, Housing, and Health: Understanding Vulnerability and Building Resilience within Manufactured Housing Communities (H3+), we propose to: (1) Complete the thermal insecurity in manufactured housing research under way as part of our existing H3 Project (RII) in which we are developing and testing a research protocol to study thermal (in)security in mobile and manufactured housing; (2) Assemble a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional research team focused on the convergent vulnerabilities and resilience challenges associated with heat, housing and health, allowing us to scale up from Pima County to statewide and regional (US Southwest and borderlands) analysis, and to apply for a major NSF or other external grant funding. The proposed project aligns with NSF interest in slow-onset hazards, addresses pressing social needs with respect to affordable housing and public health, and contributes to research coalescing around extreme heat at the University of Arizona. To connect extreme heat research on campus and advance our collaboration with ASU and other institutions, we will hold a workshop (including student interns) on heat, housing, and health with the goal of developing an NSF proposal during or before Spring 2022. The extramural competitiveness of our research will be enhanced by the preliminary data we are currently collecting in Pima County. This data will be analyzed with the assistance of VIP interns / student researchers. 

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The Medical Sociology Shop

Surgical robotics technology promises more precise, automated, flexible medical care that does not require physical co-presence. Yet this exact promise also produces new dependencies between the medical device industry, physicians, and institutions, and entails challenges to doctors’ professional expertise and to doctor-patient relationships. Therefore, the adoption and use of surgical robotics has the potential to produce better medical care, but may also lead to social disruptions and uncertainties that damage the quality of care. Our objective, as sociologists, is to find out how and when surgical robotics is adopted, and what social conditions and arrangements enable successful adoption. We also seek to understand the similarities and differences between automation in medicine and in other domains of expert work. By investigating these differences, and sociocultural patterns in the adoption and use of surgical robotics in the Israel-U.S. context and beyond, we aim to better understand the transnational and local social determinants of robotics adoption, as well as the potential consequences of adoption for hospitals, health practitioners, and patients.

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Optical Imaging to Advance Health Care and Biomedicine

This course is focused on applying different types of optical imaging to advance screening, diagnosis and treatment of different diseases, primarily cancer. Students will go about this by conducting rigorous imaging studies of different tissue types and then will conduct advanced image analysis to identify biomarkers. Students may also be involved with designing and assembling imaging devices for clinical application.

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Orthopaedic Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Laboratory

The primary goal of the Orthopaedic Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Laboratory is development and testing of orthopaedic biomaterials and implantable sensors. One goal of these projects is to produce engineered tissues using 3D printed biomaterials and autologous adipose derived stem cells to regenerate musculoskeletal tissues including bone and cartilage. A second goal is to develop bone bondable sensors that will facilitate measurement of fracture healing, monitor the quality of regenerated tissues, and monitor long-term bone health for assessment of additional fracture risk and efficacy of medications used to reduce fracture risk. The projects the lab works on include a highly collaborative team and utilize numerous techniques to evaluate new biomaterials and sensors. Current collaborators in our team include Drs. Philipp Gutruf, Hannah Budinoff, Douglas Loy, Barrett Potter, and Krishna Muralidharan. Due to the wide-ranging expertise of the team members, we utilize numerous techniques to accomplish our goals, with ultimate testing of new biomaterials occurring in cell culture as well as small and large animal models. Our team necessitates students with an interest in electronics fabrication, computer programming, materials fabrication, materials characterization, computer aided design, additive manufacturing, biomechanics, high-resolution CT imaging, and hard tissue histology.

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Precision Aging Network Student Ambassadors

The goals of this team are to:

  1. Introduce students to aging research with training on public health principles, community engagement tools and methods, and help develop culturally appropriate approaches to increase older and racial/ethnic minority individuals’ participation in brain health research. 
  2. Provide students the opportunity to work in the large nationwide program “Precision Aging Network” and to learn how to work with communities for research. 
  3. Recruit and train graduate and undergraduate students from Hispanic/Latino or African American/Black racial and ethnic backgrounds in any discipline areas of study to increase research participations of under-served communities.

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Sleep and Circadian Research Group

The overall goal of our team is to promote quality of life for patients with sleep disorders by improving knowledge in the area of sleep and circadian research so that the knowledge gained can ultimately translate into patient care / improving patient outcomes.

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UA Holodeck: Health, Wellbeing, and Design Thinking

In this directed research course, students will collaborate on the UA Holodeck, an immersive, interactive learning environment on the third floor of the Health Sciences Library, where students can use virtual reality and other novel technologies to explore a wide range of research questions and engage in worldwide collaboration using virtual environments, telepresence and remote interaction.

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Understanding Trauma Patient Health Literacy and Patient Discharge

It is now standard practice for patients to receive a summary of their care following visits to doctors. In the trauma setting, patients receive discharge summaries upon completion of their hospital stay. Compliance with post-discharge instructions is important for recovery, but there is debate about the utility of the discharge summary to patients and its impact on outcomes. Studies show that a significant portion of discharged patients experience adverse events, many of which are preventable. Furthermore, it is known that the quality of discharge summaries varies, and some studies attempt to improve discharge protocols via patient feedback. However, no studies exist that describe patient attitudes and behavior regarding their discharge summaries or which factors may impact them. Factors such as the quality of summaries, health literacy, primary spoken language, socioeconomic class, technological literacy, and others may influence how long a patient retains their discharge summary and how often it is referenced for guidance. These factors may have direct impacts on patient outcomes, including recovery, adverse events, and readmittance. Our goal is to identify such factors and describe correlations between use of discharge summaries and patient health outcomes.

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Understanding the Prevalence, Transmission, and the Epidemiological Traceback Investigation of Cyclospora cayatenensis in Fresh Produce Growing Regions

The driving question of this project is to better understand the prevalence, transmission, and epidemiological traceback investigation of Cyclospora cayetanensis, a human food- and waterborne protozoan parasite that causes cyclosporiasis

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Design Intersections Courses

Design Intersections Courses are offered by other programs but include curriculum that complements or connects with Health Sciences Design. These include courses taught by HSD faculty and their faculty colleagues from across campus. Although the curriculum is not necessarily health-focused, the courses listed here are featured because of meaningful inter-program collaborations or content synergies that could make them of particular interest to HSD students, especially students who are interested in courses they could take before, concurrently with or after their HSD courses to broaden their design competencies.

CHS / SOC 497A
Healthy Community Design & Innovation

In this course, we will learn how to use social science to create change in our society, right here in the heart of Tucson. Using human-centric design thinking, we will learn about the fields of applied sociology and community development and apply our in-class learning to develop real-world solutions to some of Tucson's most persistent social problems. We will review both the academic and practitioner literature on the processes involved in designing social innovations and use experiential learning to bring about positive social change in our own community.

SBE 301
Introduction to Design Thinking

This course introduces students to the essential methods of visual communication and ordering systems through a series of interrelated exercises. Techniques such as investigative sketching, freehand drawing and digital design communication are considered in relation to their potential to reveal the world around us with a heightened sense of awareness. Issues such as place, material, structure and enclosure will be explored empirically and conceptually at a variety of scales and applications. Importantly, this is an interdisciplinary-based studio; students enrolled in this course will have the ability to engage in a variety of different design strategies.

HNRS 195I 008
Strategies for Creative Problem Solving

The purpose of this course is to help problem solvers improve their “street smarts.” Every individual possesses creative skills of one type or another, and these skills can be sharpened if they are exercised regularly. This course will help you hone your creative skills and apply those skills to solve nearly any problem. Drawing on advanced research on problem-solving techniques in all areas of modern industry, this course presents a comprehensive, systematic problem-solving framework. Through hands-on techniques and exercises drawing on realistic examples, you will learn how to approach an ill-defined problem, identify the real problem, generate and implement the best solution, evaluate what you’ve learned, and build on that knowledge.

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Why Design Matters

This colloquium introduces students to design in differing scales, media and applications, and to how design thinking and making produce different effects.