Graduate Minor in Design Studies

  • Overview

    The graduate minor in Design Studies enables students to familiarize themselves with the theories, scope, and methodologies of design studies. This graduate minor consists of 9 credits: one required core course and two electives. The graduate minor is available to graduate students across The New School and is designed to complement a variety of master’s and doctoral programs in the liberal arts and social research and in other design disciplines.

    Grounded in a material culture approach and recognizing design as an agent of social change, Design Studies addresses the complex relationship of design to society and investigates the social, political, and ethical facets of design from a future-oriented perspective. The courses offered as part of this minor draw on both analytical and propositional modes of inquiry, allowing students to acquire a critical understanding of design as they investigate notions such as the emergent, memory, and the politics of infrastructure.

    The Design Studies graduate minor is offered through Parsons' School of Art and Design History and Theory.

    Learning Outcomes

    A student who has completed this minor should be able to demonstrate:

    • An understanding of the major theoretical frameworks that have shaped and continue to shape the field of design studies
    • The ability to competently describe various design disciplines and practices, from object oriented to system based to community driven, that inform current design studies
    • The ability to competently articulate an understanding of the relationship between design and sociocultural issues such as gender, race, ethics, and politics
    • Competence in thinking, speaking, and writing clearly and effectively and communicating with precision, cogency, and rhetorical force


    The core required course for this minor is Discourses in Design, which is offered each spring semester. Following a seminar format, this course introduces topics and authors in the field of design studies, allowing students to explore the major conceptual frameworks that inform design studies, as well as essential research methodologies used in the field.

    In addition to taking the core course, students select two electives from the chart below. Course availability may vary from semester to semester. Some courses may be in development and offered at a later time.

    Subject Area Course Options Credits
    Core course Discourses in Design 3 credits
    Elective courses Fall
    Anthropology and Design: Objects, Sites, Systems
    Curating Praxis
    Design and Language 
    Theorizing Luxury
    Visual, Spatial, and Material Politics

    Curating Design at the Intersection of Art, Technology, and Ecology
    Design Fictions
    From Forever 21 to Apple
    Movements and Modernity
    Nonfiction and/as Design
    6 credits (choose two elective courses, 3 credits each)

    Students seeking to pursue alternative 5000- and 6000-level coursework to fulfill the minor should consult with their advisor. In addition to taking the proposed Design Studies electives, students can choose courses in areas including the history, theory, criticism, and curation of design; design as social action; innovation and the creation of alternative design futures; design and social media in the public realm; design and the social sciences; the spatiality of design; and the role of design in the urban realm.


    David Brody, Professor of Design Studies
    Caroline Dionne, Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Design Practice
    Jilly Traganou, Associate Professor of Spatial Design
    Susan Yelavich, Associate Professor of Design Studies, Art and Design History and Theory


    The Design Studies graduate minor is available to graduate degree students across The New School whose program curriculum allows them to take at least 9 elective credits at Parsons. Students who have completed some or all of the courses that can be applied to the minor should make an appointment with their advisor to review their transcript and demonstrate successful completion of the Design Studies minor.

    Master’s students are encouraged to declare their interest in the graduate minor by the end of their first year. Doctoral students are encouraged to declare their interest in the minor by the end of their second year. The minor can also be attributed retrospectively. Upon completion of the minor’s requirements, the completed minor will appear on the student’s academic transcript and diploma at graduation.

    For questions about this minor, please contact Caroline Dionne, Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Design Practice, at