What if Design and Public Health joined to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges?


Design and Public Health

Towards a Confluence

There has been tremendous progress in improving health around the world over the last century. Still, we are faced with persistent, intractable problems that continue to threaten our well-being. Bringing design to public health does not replace current approaches. Rather, it advances expertise in solving systemic challenges fraught with uncertainty due to intangible emotional, cultural, social factors that are difficult to measure and control.

Our agenda



Pressing Challenges

Design for Well-Being

When people’s lives were simpler, slower, and offered fewer choices, organizations could be certain about what to make. But, as societies grew and diversified over time, organizations have not kept pace. Today, the fast and continuous change in people’s lives, producers’ technology, and world events make 20th-century traditional approaches unfit to address 21st-century challenges, including economic discrepancy, global climate change, and unregulated media.

We propose to advance the field of design towards improving the well-being of three interdependent constituencies: people, organizations, and the natural environment. Rather than approaching each part in isolation, we are investigating how they form a whole system that can give shape to new livelihoods.

Our approach



Recent Contributions

Cutting Cubes Out of Fog: The Whole View of Design

Abstract In this article we argue that the field of design evolved to include helping organizations address complex problems in the face of uncertainty, but it has yet to build knowledge in a way that formalizes the various…

Happy Cities: A New Model for Urban Interventions

Over the course of two weeks in January 2020, students from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and from Tufts University joined fellow students from the Architecture and Design School at King Mongkut University of Technology…