The Ideate Backstory

With Ideate 2017 coming up on April 15th, we wanted to look back to when and how Ideate first started.

Design is something that’s missing from a lot of school curriculums, Duke included. There are no design majors. No Industrial Design. No Graphic Design. No Human Computer Interaction. We get close with Visual Media Studies and Arts Vis, but there’s only a few design courses offered, and that’s nowhere near enough. It’s evident within the CS department too — students at other schools learn about designing for accessibility or how to build storyboards. We don’t.

And so we end up with Duke graduates who are passionate about design, but end up majoring in Computer Science or Psychology (one of our speakers was a Physics grad even).

It’s a problem. And so last year we started a design conference at Duke, Ideate.

Ideate was a two-day conference with speakers from both tech companies and design agencies. We encouraged our speakers to share what they cared about. For one, that was the role of ethics in design: should we make the thumbs up emoji white by default? Why not yellow or brown? Other speakers discussed Design Thinking or shared the story of how they became designers. How do you tell if it’s what you want, and if so, how do you make it happen?

We chatted with a lot of participants afterwards, and they seemed to appreciate the questions and contents brought up in those talks. And so this year we’ll keep our speaker talks as the focus of Ideate. You’ll be able to pick which talks you go to (for instance if you’re a Graphic Design person, you can go to that talk instead of User Interface Design) and we will conclude our day with a set of design challenges where you will use what you’ve learned and be able to workshop ideas with speakers.

One thing we will change is the duration of the event. We had a hard time cutting out content last year, which was why it lasted two days. This year we’ve condensed it all into one.

Ideate will also take place in the Nasher Museum of Modern Art on campus. We’ve worked with museum staff to grant free access to all galleries for our attendees so that they will be able to both enjoy and draw inspiration from the art collections there.

Sounds interesting? If so, registration is now live on

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