CM Capstone: Interaction Design and Social Justice


Interaction design is concerned with the invention of useful and beautiful products that mediate everyday actions and facilitate interpersonal and social interactions. The need for effective interaction design is evident once we consider the wide presence and impact of digital and non-digital products in our activities and experiences of everyday. Examples span a wide range: from waiting rooms to banking services, political campaigns to interactive games. Interaction design practices often raise some of the most vexing philosophic problems related to the forms and meanings of democratic participation or the nature and function of social justice. Think for example, how mechanics of participation on social media dictate who can participate in civic discourse and how. Or, how algorithmic processes impact lives and livelihoods by deciding whether one qualifies for a loan or a job. This course is an advanced-level capstone that helps students identify and address such questions through hands-on semester-long projects.

To this end, we will begin with a brief introduction to the problems of interaction design and its immediate and ultimate purpose. We will explore the key issues of interaction design including the nature interaction, experience, and products as related to questions of social justice and democracy. We review the basic strategies of interaction design such as generative research, prototyping and evaluation methods as well as the role and function of criticism in design practice and discourse. Class projects are accompanied with readings and discussion. 


  • Understand interaction design artifacts as reasoned and persuasive arguments that are audience specific and situated. 
  • Use the theories and topics presented in this course to identify the problems and analyze the issues of interaction design
  • Effectively manage and strategize interaction design projects through various stages of ideation, selection, organization and form-giving, and evaluation
  • Develop a deep understanding of the history, audience, and context of interaction design practices.
  • Ability to work effectively in teams to accomplish a common goal


This course consists of discussions of selected readings, studio/critique sessions, and a set of projects. Grades will be determined based on the following:

  • Project 1: 15% 
  • Project 2: 60%
  • Readings, discussion, and crit: 10% 
  • Process book: 15%


  • Communication:  Email and teams are used as means of communication for this course. It is your responsibility to check email often to obtain information related to the course. Make sure to update the settings on your Canvas page so you will receive automatic emails about announcements, readings, and assignments. You are responsible for all announcements made in class, via email or Canvas. The syllabus is available online. Please refresh the page regularly so you have are aware of any minor changes to the schedule. 
  • Making sure you learn no matter what:  I will do my best to help you succeed in this class. Please notify me if you have any disabilities with which you need special assistance or consideration. The campus disability assistance program can be contacted through ADAPTS: http://
  • Attendance: It is hard to imagine a studio class that does not require attendance. However, we need to prioritize the safety of ourselves and our community and I will do my best to accommodate your learning if you have to stay home by streaming the class and being available for your questions through teams. There are also easy steps we can take to ensure that we stay healthy. Here are specific recommendations: 1: Get vaccinated. 2: Get tested regularly, and do not come to class if you feel sick. 3: Wear a mask, preferably a KN95 or N95 one, while attending class or joining group meetings 4: take advantage of Atlanta’s great weather: socialize and do your group activities outside;
  • Software and programming: Software We will be doing most of the early work using paper and pencil as well as Adobe Suite. Later in the course, we will use a range of applications and resources as appropriate for specific group projects. While most of the software are available at Georgia Tech library, the students are responsible for accessing the software and not the course. It is also important to note that this is not a class on the software. I recommend that you consult the software help files, available books, or online material if you need more help using the software.



  • Hanington, Bruce, and Bella Martin. Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions. Rockport Publishers, 2012. Available through GT Library and other online sources.
  • All other required readings will be distributed to the class via Canvas.

Supplementary Material

  • Dewey, John. Art as Experience. (1934)
  • Meggs, Philip B. Type & Image: The Language of Graphic Design. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992.
  • Nelson, George. How to See. (2006)
  • Taylor, Joshua C., Learning to Look: A Handbook for the Visual Arts. (1981)

Course Schedule


Week 1: Jan 9

Creativity and Design
  In Class Course Introduction / Design and Justice / Design Process and Criticism
Activities: 100 uses for a paperclip / Project 1 draft 1
  After 10 Iterations of Word and Meaning. follow assignment sheet.
Read: Thinking with Type, Selections on Canvas (The chapter titled “TEXT” is most relevant to project 1. The chapter titled “GRIDS” is supplementary.”)
Listen: Radio Lab, 100 Flowers
Viewing: IDEO redesigning the shopping cart

Week 2: Jan 16

Design Crit: Principles and Practices
  In Class Project 1: Crit 1 (warm-up)
Discussion of crit principles and expectations
  After Use Crit to finalize project 1. Make your design process documentation.
Read : Wayne Booth on Criticism (find on Canvas)
Find and bring your favorite toy car to class

Part II. Capstone Project, Brainstorming, Research, & Prototyping

Week 3: Jan 23

Design & Justice: Capstone Project Kickoff
  In Class Project 1 Presentation of Final Designs and Discussion
Introducing Project 2 Themes and Topics
  After Group Formation and Project Brainstorming
Meet your mentor (20 minutes): With your mentor, identify key issues related to your projects and identify research papers that can inform your work.

Start reading and researching your project individual and as a group.
Read: Design and Justice Paper (to be distributed)

Week 4: Jan 30

Studio Session
  In Class Discuss Design and Justice Paper : How will the themes of the paper relate to your group project?
Begin brainstorming as a group to identify 10-20 possibilities.
  After Continue brainstorming with your group to come up with 10-20 project ideas;
Discuss and refine 3 of them to share with class (3 powerpoint slides per group).

Week 5: Feb 6

Studio Session
  In Class Presenation and Crit #1: Identify the concept that you like to continue working on as a group.
Process Check: How are you doing as a group? What are the strenghts of your group? What are its weeknesses? Identify three concrete changes that will improve your group performance moving forward.
  After Identify research methods that you can use to inform your project (from: Hanington, Bruce, and Bella Martin. Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions).

Week 6: Feb 13

Studio Session
  In Class Short discussion of process book writing and design
Groups meetings with mentors &/or instructor
Discuss details of research and prototyping plans
  After As a group: Write an abstract and project overview describing the background research including comparative analysis, rationale for design direction you are taking, and intended outcomes (1000-1500 words). Refine the project timeline based on specific project needs. Include details of research and design deadlines.
Individually: Update your process book to reflect your work so far. Finalize research plans and begin research; write up two pages about your choices of design methods and rationale.

Week 7: Feb 20

Studio Session
  In Class Working Session
  After Meet with your mentor (20 minutes)

Week 8: Feb 27

Studio Session
  In Class Presentation and Crit #2
  After Follow your research and making plans

Week 9: March 6

Studio Session
  In Class Groups meetings with mentors &/or instructor : Confirm and refine evalution plans
  After Identify research methods and strategies for evaluation

Part III. Capstone Project, Evaluation and Refinement, Reflection and Documentation

Week 10: March 13

Studio Session
  In Class Discuss: Research methods and strategies for evaluation. Confirm and refine evaluation plans
  After Begin evaluation and refinement process

Week 11: Spring Break (March 20-24, 2023)

Week 12: March 27

Studio Session
  In Class Presentation and Crit #3 (Research Results)
  After Continue research and refinement
Start the documentation process

Week 13: April 3

Studio Session
  In Class Dry run your presentation.
Groups meetings with mentors &/or instructor
  After Finalize and Refine Project;
Prepare and Practice Your Presentation

Week 14 (April 10) & Week 15 (April 17)

Group Presentations

Week 16: April 24

Reflection and Submission
  Submit Short Videos
Process Books
Presentation Files