About SCD

We disrupt education with

Inspiration + Exploration + Action

Bring your ideas. Your energy. Your personality. And your humor. Come ready for cross-collaboration and industry disruption. Get ready to think analytically - but also to get your hands dirty. We have the physical tools you need to build what you want. We also have the knowledge and resources to help you connect and learn what it is you don’t know yet.

 Our Mission:

To practice, model, and teach design thinking, using human-centered design, in collaboration with others, to re-imagine our campus, community, and collective world.

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a problem-solving approach that uses design thinking to identify the unmet needs of a population in order to collaboratively and iteratively develop solutions. We believe that HCD is a flexible approach that allows anyone to solve problems in creative and innovative ways, using processes such as empathizing with people, brainstorming ideas, and prototyping solutions.

HCD relies on a 
"double arrow"

Human-centered design practice should be evidence-based, taking advantage of rigorous research. In all of our work, we want everyone's strengths and insights to flow in both directions. Both research outcomes and practical design success drive us, inform our work, and create good outcomes in the world.

We work with educators, researchers, and students

To share how human-centered design can be applied to any challenge and field.Our team is focused on evidence-based assessment of when HCD works, why it works, and how to improve it, and are building frameworks and tools that share those insights and best practices with everyone.


“Our vision for Siebel Center for Design is that it be deeply and truly transformational–accelerating unimaginable and breakthrough ideation and innovation at the intersection of science, engineering, fine arts, humanities, and the performing arts.”

Thomas Siebel 
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 
alumnus(BA–History; MBA & MS–Computer Science)

 These are things we believe in:

We believe in the  transformative power of Human-Centered Design, an adaptable methodology empowering individuals to tackle challenges with ingenuity and innovation.

By engaging in practices like empathetic understanding, ideation, and prototyping, we advocate for a dynamic problem-solving approach accessible to all.

We believe that Human-Centered Design holds substantial implications for higher education.

It finds practical use in shaping learning experiences and tackling educational obstacles. Moreover, this method actively encourages practical, real-world issue resolution and cross-disciplinary partnerships. When students engage in Human Centered Design, they’re not just gaining skills, they’re crafting a toolkit for success in the modern world. It’s akin to nurturing human-centeredness, teamwork, communication, experimentation, deep thinking, and of course, a splash of creativity - qualities highly prized in today’s educational and professional realms.

We believe in collaborating closely with educators, researchers, and students to demonstrate the versatile application of Human-Centered Design across diverse challenges and fields. 

Our commitment lies in conducting evidence-based assessments to discern the effectiveness, underlying principles, and avenues for enhancement of HCD. Furthermore, we are dedicated to constructing comprehensive frameworks and practical tools that disseminate these valuable insights and best practices, ensuring their accessibility to all.

We believe that Human-Centered Design thrives on a dynamic exchange, symbolized by a “double arrow,” which harmoniously merges research and practice. 

Rooted in this belief, our approach emphasizes evidence-based Human-Centered Design, leveraging robust research methodologies. Throughout our endeavors, we are committed to fostering a bidirectional flow of strengths and insights, wherein the synergy between research findings and practical design achievements propels us forward. By aligning research outcomes and design success, we actively shape our work to bring about positive and impactful outcomes in the world. Our Assessment and Research team at SCD has expanded on existing HCD frameworks and crafted a taxonomy (Lawrence, Shehab, & Tissenbaum, in press) that we use as a foundation in all our work. It breaks down Human-Centered Design into five spaces: Understand, Synthesize, Ideate, Prototype, and Implement. Each space comprises four processes, engaging you in both divergent and convergent thinking, as well as decision-making

We believe in an inclusive ethos, welcoming all who share a passion for Human-Centered Design.

 At the core of SCD beats a collaborative rhythm, as students, faculty, and partners unite to pioneer and execute solutions, addressing challenges of every scale that shape our contemporary world. The essence of Siebel Center for Design lies in co-creating designs that resonate with and benefit everyone

We believe that at SCD, the essence of design lies in our collective engagement.

Through dismantling barriers, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, and embracing adaptability, we revolutionize education to unearth innovative, holistic resolutions for diverse challenges across communities. 

We firmly believe in the magic of serendipity.

Design permeates every facet of life, spanning across diverse disciplines. The true excitement emerges when individuals from varying countries, academic fields, backgrounds, perspectives, and passions converge harmoniously in open, collaborative spaces. We advocate for a culture where collaboration is not the exception, but the guiding principle, fostering unique and captivating encounters.

 Our Strategic Directives:


  1. Become local, state, and global leaders in teaching and practice of Design Thinking
  2. Communicate our value and impact to campus and beyond
  3. Establish evidence based metrics that can help us evaluate Design Thinking at scale
  4. Maximize the intentional usage of our building and its resources to support innovation activities
  5. Engage faculty in advancing knowledge and applications of Design Thinking
  6. Spread the process and mindsets of Design Thinking across campus to affect cultural change

By inviting all members of the campus community and community-at-large to our building on South Campus - and by getting to know every college, school, institute, and department really well -  SCD will continue to create optimum conditions for interdisciplinary collaboration and learn alongside our campus, community, and the collective world how to best use human-centered design to solve problems, using creativity and empathy.

Hot off the Presses!

The 2023 SCD Annual Report is here - in print or digital - with all the best stories from our biggest year yet. Grab a copy at SCD, or flip through the digital version below. 

Read the Report!