Professor of Practice, Design Thinking Program Director and Associate Director, Design Thinking for Social Impact

Tulane University, Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking
New Orleans, LA
Job Type
Where to Apply

The Phyllis Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking was founded as a university-wide initiative in 2014 through a generous endowment gift by Mrs. Taylor. The center was conceived as a way to build on existing strengths involving positive social change across all ten schools and several other centers at Tulane University. A core program is the undergraduate minor in social innovation and social entrepreneurship (started in 2012). Numerous co-curricular student programs were also launched as part of Tulane University’s emergence as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus in 2009. The center serves as a catalyst for additional opportunities and dimensions that are now afforded to faculty, students, staff and community partners who are interested in engaging with challenges of social inequity, exclusion, and environmental issues that exist in New Orleans and throughout the nation and world.

From the mission and values statement:

Taylor envisions a powerfully connected network of Changemakers who support and learn from each other as they work to create lasting positive social change in their communities.

RESPECT: We are committed to equity and recognize humility and empathy as cornerstones of effective and ethical engagement with others.

CONNECTION: We see innovation as a social act that is grounded in the relationships between people across difference.

LEARNING: We practice persistent curiosity and recognize that everyone has knowledge to gain and share.

CREATIVITY: We are committed to being open and at times uncomfortable as we seek out the unexpected in imagining a better world.

Design Thinking

One way of engaging and promoting systems change is through design thinking (DT) or human-centered design (HCD). The DT process has been part of the social innovation minor and other learning experiences since the program began. There is growing interest on campus and beyond to apply the process, methodology and mindset to assist in exploring and solving complex societal problems. The Taylor Center mission and goal is to “cultivate and connect changemakers,” and we see design thinking as a part of any changemaking toolkit. DT is therefore central to much our work. With this position, we seek to expand, enrich and improve our teaching, learning, and research in the area of design thinking for social impact.


Lead and create teams to deliver DT programming, including co-curricular workshops, special design projects, and formal courses
Guide strategies for DT education and outreach that help to mainstream DT mindsets throughout Taylor’s work
Support DT capacity building for the Taylor team and partners
Provide vision and expertise while working collaboratively to develop a monitoring and evaluation plan for DT education for changemaking (e.g., strategy, theory of change, research, evaluate, adapt and scale design thinking/human-centered design initiatives).
Work with executive director and other directors to identify additional or new areas of collaborative opportunity

Position description and duties to include:

Develop, strategize, support, manage and/or execute all DT offerings for the SISE courses
Teach at least 1 SISE course/semester
Develop curricula and teach or support graduate DT curricular and co-curricular offerings
Provide opportunities for the community within Tulane University and beyond to gain exposure via workshops and outreach
Develop and coordinate capacity-building for Taylor team, to incorporate DT methods and mindsets within programs at Taylor including operations and staff dynamic
Supervise DT teams and execute “Taylorized” consulting consistent with the Taylor Forward strategic plan
Coordinate with others to comprehensively monitor the process and outcomes of DT courses and programs
Manage budget for design thinking programs
Supervise DT instruction and instructors, workshop facilitators, and student workers
Coordinate with Taylor team, serve on committees, and complete other duties as assigned
Work in collaboration with the executive director on identifying new sources of donor support to extend the impact of this work and to scale the trajectory according to strategic priorities


Required Education and Experience:

Master’s degree in related/relevant field, including design thinking experience in the educational setting

Required Knowledge, skills, abilities/competencies typically needed to perform this job successfully:

Experienced in a higher education setting and able to communicate effectively to diverse audiences in community-based and higher education settings
Experienced in theory and applied practice of DT, especially Human Centered Design for social change
Familiar with the standard range of DT models, training formats, materials, and curricula
Experienced and proficient in collaborative, creative problem-solving
Able to conceptualize, plan, develop and implement DT programs
Understands and can integrate design thinking methodology with other methodologies used in mission-driven work (dialogue processes, participatory engagement, systems practice, etc.)
Able to take direction, manage projects, and participate on cross-functional teams as needed
Able to manage others effectively
Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends for workshops and events

Preferred Qualifications:

Doctoral degree in relevant academic field (anthropology, sociology or other liberal arts; design field such as architecture, engineering; professional fields of education, organizational management, planning, etc.) with strong focus on HCD within doctoral training and/or research
Direct experience in higher education setting, including prior university teaching experience
Involvement in design work in some way (academic, professional or other)
Familiar with social impact field, social entrepreneurship, social innovation or related fields
Familiar with monitoring and evaluation practices

Report to: Taylor Center Executive Director
Application Instructions

Candidates must apply in Interfolio and provide the following materials for submission: CV, Cover Letter/Letter of Interest, and Three References. Sample Syllabi of courses taught are also accepted as well as other documentation that may support your candidacy.

Additional Information

Report to: Taylor Center Executive Director
Application Instructions

Candidates must apply in Interfolio: and provide the following materials for submission: CV, Cover Letter/Letter of Interest, and Three References. Sample Syllabi of courses taught are also accepted as well as other documentation that may support your candidacy.