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Design Thinking in Higher Education 

October 03, 2013

IDECAnnette Diefenthaler, senior design researcher and project lead for award-winning global innovation consultancy IDEO, is passionate about bringing human-centered design to systemic challenges in education. Her insatiable curiosity about people, their beliefs and behaviors has led her to identify human needs and desires that can inspire design strategies. On Thursday, Oct. 17, Diefenthaler will present her lecture, “Design Thinking in Higher Education: What’s the Future?” 5:30 p.m. in the URBN Annex Screening Room (3401 Filbert St., Philadelphia).

Diefenthaler’s presentation will be the keynote of the 2013 eastern regional Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) conference, “Interior Dialogues,” being held at the URBN Center Oct. 17-19 and coordinated by Interior Design Professors Debra Ruben and Ada Tremonte. While registration is required for the conference, Diefenthaler’s keynote address is free and open to the public.

With a background as a product designer and carpenter, Diefenthaler joined IDEO in January 2008 and has since guided teams in designing bank branches, toys, hospital experiences, multiple services for chronic disease patients, and organizational change programs. She has extensive experience in designing solutions in the area of healthcare and has shared her deep process understanding in countless workshops, as well as in creating IDEO’s publicly available Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators.  Recently, Diefenthaler focused on collaboratively working on new solutions that will enable learners to thrive in the changing environments of the future. 

As a global design firm, IDEO’s mission is to take a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow, while identifying new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires. 

Prior to IDEO, Diefenthaler worked with the industrial design management department of Vodafone Global in Germany and brand development company The One Centre in Sydney, Australia. Diefenthaler is also an adjunct assistant professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner’s Graduate School of Public Service. She is currently developing a fellowship program at The New School of Public Engagement.