Research

Beth Kolko

Autumn 2019

Designing a business “for good”

Design programs are often critiqued because students who graduate from these programs don’t understand enough about business and how to effectively advocate for design within organizations.

We’ve had decades of experience talking about product and service design, and how to make products and processes that work for people and communities. And yet, there seem to be continuing obstacles to positively impactful tech making it into the world. This often comes back to business models and how companies structure themselves, which conventional wisdom says are immutable. Not true! 

As part of an expanded conversation about ethical technology and the social impacts of technological artifacts, more attention is now being paid to how companies themselves are built, which entrepreneurs get funded, and how technology comes to be integrated into everyday life. This can include everything from privacy considerations in data generation and collection to expectations of planned obsolescence to what problems are worth solving in the first place.

This research group will embark on a journey to document examples of companies and investors trying to push forward new models of building not just products, but companies and organizations. We’re going to read popular press and academic articles and build an annotated bibliography together of intentional experiments and unintended positive examples of the world changing. We’ll look at companies around the world in tech, energy, transportation and other sectors. We’ll discuss how human centered design plays a role in the patterns we are seeing — or how it could play a bigger role! 

Required to sign up for 2 credits. 
Undergraduate and graduate students welcome.  
Meets Wednesdays 3-4 p.m.
Email bkolko@uw.edu for an add code.


Dr. Kolko's Research Group archive