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Friday, April 26, 2019
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.


University Center, Room 313

Discursive Design Conference

About the Conference

The Conference will explore Discursive Design and Design Thinking and provide our community with a new set of tools for deeper discussions, more creative thinking and person-centered problem solving.

Register Now

Keynote Speakers

Bruce Tharp

Bruce Tharp

Stephanie Tharp

Stephanie Tharp

Sharon Kim

Sharon Kim

Bruce Tharp received his degree in mechanical engineering at Bucknell University, his Master of Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Chicago. As an anthropologist, he spent two years living with the Amish of Indiana studying their material culture and the production and consumption of value.

Stephanie Tharp received her Master of Industrial Design degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. She has work experience with the Ford Motor Company, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Armstrong Industries, and

Bruce and Stephanie Tharp’s latest book, Discursive Design, seeks to further legitimize and problematize alternate forms of design practice that extend designers’ cultural agency. The Tharps’ have exhibited their work nationally and internationally and are the recipient of several design awards. Stephanie has lectured and presented nationally and internationally, and has received grants from Motorola, The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, and the OVCR Arts, Architecture and Humanities Award at The University of Illinois at Chicago.

Sharon Kim is Lead Faculty and Director of Executive Education for Innovation and Human-Centered Design at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Cornell University, and her expertise is in the psychology of creativity. Her academic research has been featured in popular media outlets including Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company. She teaches design thinking and provides innovation consulting to leaders across the healthcare spectrum representing Fortune 100 companies as well as global health NGOs.

Schedule of Events


9:00–9:30 a.m.


Please join us for breakfast to start the day off right and fuel our bodies as well as our innovative spirits. Join us in University Center Room 313 for a buffet-style continental breakfast with coffee and tea. Make sure you allow enough time beforehand to check in at the registration table and to check out the Student Exhibits presented in the UC Gallery and as part of the workshop.

9:30–9:45 a.m.

Welcome – Provost Steve Everett
Steve Everett, D.M.A.

Provost Everett will provide opening remarks for the conference. He will describe his vision for innovation and deeper dialogue at Adelphi University, and provide a foundation for the role of discursive design and design thinking in our Adelphi Community and beyond.

Main Program

9:50–10:50 a.m.

Discursive Design
Bruce and Stephanie Tharp

Good design provides solutions to problems. It improves our buildings, medical equipment, clothing, and kitchen utensils, among other objects. But what if design could also improve societal problems by prompting positive ideological change? In their book, Bruce and Stephanie Tharp survey recent critical design practices and propose a new, more inclusive field of socially-minded practice: discursive design. While many consider good design to be unobtrusive, intuitive, invisible, and undemanding intellectually, discursive design instead targets the intellect, prompting self-reflection and igniting the imagination. Discursive design expands the boundaries of how we can use design—how objects are, in effect, goods for thinking.

Discursive Design sparks new ways of thinking, and it is only through new thinking that our sociocultural futures can change.

10:50–11:00 a.m.

Coffee Break

11:00–11:45 a.m.

International Applications of Design Thinking
Sharon Kim, Ph.D.

Director of Design Thinking and Creativity, Johns Hopkins University.

11:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Alumni IBM Panel
Zachary Johnson, Moderator

IBM Design Thinking is a framework for helping global enterprises solve complex problems, identify opportunities, and innovate in a way that enables speed, constantly delivers new value, and ensures minimal risk. From Health Care to Retailing, the IBM Design Thinking framework aligns multi-disciplinary teams around the needs of their users. IBM consultants and Adelphi University graduates Elaine Schwartz and Danielle Hyatt solve complex problems for large US-based and multinational clients across industries.  They will discuss IBM Design Thinking—at a broad level—and how it can be used to solve problems across industries including healthcare and fashion, and they will later provide guidance during a workshop with Adelphi Professor Zach Johnson related to the Innovation Center.

12:30–1:30 p.m.

Lunch Break and Instructions for Interactive Workshops

Join us for an open buffet on the third floor of the University Center. Unwind and reflect on some of the topics of the conference so far.

1:45–4:00 p.m.

Concurrent Workshops

  1. Communities of Practice in Education
  2. Design Thinking in Curriculum Development
  3. Adelphi’s New Innovation Center
  4. Discussion of Leadership, Justice and Community Activities on Campus

4:15–4:45 p.m.

Use of Discursive Design and a Foundation for Social Change
Stephanie and Bruce Tharp

Roundup, Wrap-up, and Report-out. Finding our future directions for our projects, programs and for our university.

Closing Reception

5:00 p.m.


In appreciation of your attendance, we will provide light fare and wine. We can use this time to come together, reflect and connect over the day’s events.

Also Featuring

BFA Design Art Exhibition in the University Center Gallery — Capstone Projects from the senior class of Dale Flashner, Director of the Graphic Design Studio at Adelphi University. 

Event Parking

The event will be taking place while school is in session, so parking can be difficult. Fortunately, there is parking at the Garden City Pool with regular shuttles running from the parking area directly to the event.

Sponsored by the Center for Health Innovation with support from FCPE and the Provost’s Office.

For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Cohn, Ph.D., RN, FAAN
Executive Director
Center for Health Innovation
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Coronavirus Update: As New York is on a "pause" for social distancing purposes, all in-person events for the next several weeks have been converted to online, postponed or canceled. Please check this page as information will be updated as possible—and call ahead before any upcoming in-person events until further notice. Thanks.