This course explores theories of communication from multiple fields for application to design planning, including relevant perspectives from education, social psychology, phenomenology and knowledge management.

Design is a field that is as much about learning as it is about creation or problem solving. Learning, or knowing, is something that both planning teams and organizations must constantly engage in to act in a responsive manner. To do this, design planners need insight about how we come to “know” anything–what are the tools at our disposal, theoretical concepts and activities that we might create to build collaborative knowing? Many theorists agree that communication is central to this. This course is designed for advanced students who have discovered that communication is central to planning work, and who wish to have more insight as to how to craft content and engage others in that work.

Learning Objectives
In this course, students are exposed to two classes of communication theory. The first group of theories looks at traditional cognitive models of communication— what needs to be in place to help individuals engage, process and integrate new information? These theories can help inform content design, information systems design and even the fundamentals of presenting work to stakeholders and potential funders.

The second group of theories looks to constructivist theories—how can design leverage and encourage a collaborative construction of meaning? These theories can help designers use space, artifacts, and tools to build shared knowledge and engage constituents in a collaborative, experiential manner. This is an important mode of communication for all designers and planners, whose work requires a deep transformation in thinking and organizational will.

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course students will be able to leverage and apply multiple theories of communication towards practical design activities.