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Human Centered Design


“For in showing students new areas of engagement, we may set up alternative patterns of thinking about design problems. We may help them to develop the kind of social and moral responsibility that is needed in design.” - Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World.


The Postgraduate Program in Human Centered Design at Srishti Manipal fosters an independent, responsible, creative, and focused inquiry into human (and sometimes non-human) experiences with digital technology, both existing and emerging. This inquiry is driven by the activity of speculative and critical making with the digital material. With the emphasis of being sensitive towards communities and environmental systems, students develop their own unique practice of human centered design along the intersections of the following paths.

  1. Creative and critical thinkers, this path enables them to critically question, analyse, interpret and evaluate experiences to conceive innovative responses to future challenges. With the ability to identify the vexing issues facing society today, they are encouraged to debate social challenges using human centered and, systems Design approach. Further shape new ideas, understandings, approaches and opinions using critical and speculative design.
  2. Locating the self at specific, socio-politically contested sites that embed Human Computer Interactions. By critically engaging with different theories and contexts, this path focuses on understanding, unpacking, and being responsive to the specific contexts within which human-centered design and use of digital tools and technologies is located.
  3. Moving Beyond Screens and towards exploring tangible, physical encounters with the digital material. This path focuses on exploring the possibilities and implications of designing digital technology as an integral part of the physical environment for human experiences.
  4. Moving Behind Screens, towards exploring opportunities and implications of designing for interacting with complex socio-technical infrastructures. This path focuses on exploring the design for screen-based interactions while digging deeper into the emerging complex technological infrastructure that is increasingly driving such interactions, namely big data, machine learning and advanced algorithms. 

These paths are closely interlinked and intertwined. Each learner will have an opportunity to explore the intersections of the paths, and thereby begin to work on developing their own unique, individual practice. This is supported by opportunities to engage in transdisciplinary projects.

Learning Approach

Learning at the postgraduate level is driven by published lines of inquiries that is enacted through studio based learning, workshops, theoretical reflections and field work. This approach cultivates a creative practice through engagement in diverse contexts, collaborative and participatory approaches leading to knowledge development.

Program learning approaches include:

  1. A theoretical and historical knowledge of philosophies and methods of human centered design of digital technology and their limitations.
  2. Methods of Hands-on and critical making as means of research and design.
  3. Methods of speculative and participatory creativity and research.
  4. Frameworks and methodologies of ethical perspectives and self-reflexivity within and questioning limits of HCD.

Capability Sets

Upon successful completion of the course, graduates will have the capabilities to:

  1. Imagine: Construct concepts in an unhindered and unbounded manner
  2. Speculate: Take risks while being iterative in constructing plausible concepts even with limited information.
  3. Discern & Align: Take an informed stance after perceiving, questioning, and distinguishing between information from different sources and knowledge forms.
  4. See & Connect: Consciously unearth and combine diverse experiences and knowledge forms.
  5. Be Honest: Be aware of and transparent in articulating your position with respect to social, cultural, and political implications of digital technology.
  6. Make: Construct to bring about artifacts, things, and people into novel assemblages as critical vehicles of inquiry.


The above-mentioned capability sets could lead to opportunities such as:

  1. Employment in design studios, R&D, product development teams in small and large corporations and start-ups focusing on novel, cutting-edge interaction and interactive product design.
  2. Employment in start-ups, small and medium enterprises, NGOs & social enterprises focusing on both product design and service-system design.
  3. Employment in the Information Technology industry with a focus on user experience, user interface and experience design, and strategic service design.



Disciplinary Intersections

The course is informed by the following learning disciplines:

Industrial Design – namely Product Design, Furniture Design & Services and Systems
Visual Communication Design
Anthropology, Sociology, Cognitive Psychology & Cultural Studies
Information Technology

Research and Collaboration

The students under this course will have the opportunity to work with the following centers and labs at Srishti.



Human-Centered Design (HCD), broadly, is an approach to solve problems while keeping the concerns of the humans at the center of it. The output of this approach could either be a product, a service, a system, or a space. HCD is increasingly being used to solve complex problems through the design of digital products, services, and systems. This is an inter-disciplinary field borrowing from psychology, anthropology, technology as well as design disciplines of industrial design, interaction design, visual communication design, and architecture and urban design.

Digital technology is becoming the core of most, if not all, aspects of human experiences. And increasingly Human Centered Design is being positioned as a solution ushering in more equitable and just systems and infrastructures. However, HCD is no magic pill that it is made out to be. It is vital to not only shape digital technology in ways that benefit each and every human being, but also to critically inquire into the inherent assumptions and their limitations while following a human-centered design approach. More importantly we need to critically and creatively explore the limits of HCD itself when dealing with wicked, complex problems.

If you are excited about digital products, services and systems, whether be it creatively and collaboratively shaping them or critically analysing their design and imaginations of use, or both, then the program is suited for you. You are driven by a desire to shape the digital material, in combination, with other socio-material aspects, into something that offers more equitable futures to people and potentially other species too. You seek to develop criticality in your approach and do not believe that design or technology alone can solve problems and in fact create more problems than they claim to solve. And you want to yet explore a more humble approach to see what possibilities do lie in taking a truly human centered design approach.

You will work with designers, artists, anthropologists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and other professionals who are constantly pushing the boundaries of human centered approaches to the design of digital systems and infrastructures. The program will better inform your ability to imagine and shape digital systems and infrastructures, while also developing critical abilities to question and challenge commonly held assumptions and status-quo. You will engage with critical discourses as well as critically make, bringing together ‘thinking’ and ‘making’ in a unique combination.

You have an opportunity to build on your learning from your undergraduate degree through research, studios and workshops to develop and innovate new ways of designing more just and equitable digital systems and infrastructures.

A program in Human Centered Design is an ideal qualification for those students who wish to pursue a career that entails researching, imagining, planning and engaging with a wide range of stakeholders towards designing just, equitable digital systems and infrastructures. The program offers you a platform to develop an individual practice, towards pushing the social, cultural, economic and political status quo about the role digital technology could and should play in our lives. You become oriented to push organizations or build organizations from the ground up, to be accountable and responsible for the things they design.

You could work in product and service industry and start-ups, join a design firm offering user and design research and product design services to a range of clientele, or work in the not-for-profit sector building digital products and systems. The program also allows you to apply into a PhD program in a related area.

All admission and fee related information could be viewed on our admissions page.

View Eligibility for Admission, Fee Schedule, Application Form & Other information for this Program >>