From February 26th – 28th, the Designing the Future(s) Initiative and the Beeck Center sponsored a visit with social entrepreneur and researcher Nadia Roumani. A lecturer of design at Stanford University’s d.school and the Walter and Esther Hewlett Fellow at Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Roumani spent her visit to Georgetown meeting with members of the university’s design community. She discussed with faculty how design thinking can inform current and developing Future(s) projects and engaged with the inaugural class of the Board of Regents Future(s) Fellows. During her conversations with Georgetown faculty members, Roumani emphasized that interdisciplinarity and empathy were crucial foundational steps to effective design solutions, and should be integral in the teaching of design to students. Roumani said that empathy—whether gained through immersion or ethnography—allows a designer to “sit with the messiness” of a problem and better understand a user’s position in a system or landscape, their motivations for navigating it, and the challenges that sparked the need for the new or redesigned product, service, or system.
Roumani has extensive experience as a community organizer, economist, development specialist and social entrepreneur. She served as a d.school Fellow from 2012-2013, where she co-developed the foundational course “Design Thinking Bootcamp: Experiences in Innovation and Design.”
Chad Anderson and Christina Ferguson contributed to this post.