By Ravi Sarpatwari


[A]s more people develop a design sensibility, we’ll increasingly be able to deploy design for its ultimate purpose: changing the world. –Daniel Pink


Beginning this fall, students from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design will have the opportunity to work together in a new elective course entitled Design + Health.

Through a series of immersive workshops, the course is meant to expose students to the variety of ways that design can influence health–from community design that encourages healthier behaviors, to the design of medical products, to the role of design in communicating medical information. The learning objectives are based on the needs to not only facilitate awareness of design’s capacity to promote health, but also to advance research in this area and allow for increased utilization among the medical and public health fields. By facilitating collaboration among design and medical students during their formative educational experiences, the course is meant to stimulate discourse and creative thinking in addressing complex healthcare issues we face today.

The course is part of the larger Design + Health initiative established this spring. This partnership between AMS—a leader in medical education and biomedical research—and RISD—a leader in art and design education—seeks to combine the strengths of both institutions and represents a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of design and health innovation. Although academic precedents linking design and health exist, this collaboration would be among the first to actively bring together design and medical students. Conceived from its earliest stages as an interdisciplinary partnership, Design + Health is an experiment in creative thinking to inform a new approach to healthcare problem solving.

This website serves as the virtual space for the initiative and course, and provides a way for students, faculty, healthcare providers, designers, and community members to connect and share ideas.