In Is ‘Design Thinking’ the New Liberal Arts?, Peter Miller Dean of the Bard Graduate Center describes the pedagogical and learning strengths and limitations of design thinking.
Design-thinking courses are based on solving real world problems, often involve working in diverse groups, engage multiple disciplines (information and ways of thinking are accessed to fit the problem), and focus on discovery. However, they tend to ignore the human past, which is in contradiction to its focus on human-centered design.
Michael Shanks, one of the very few tenured professors of humanities teaching regularly in the d.school, points out, design thinking needs to be seen as “necessarily archaeological and represents what prior generations called ‘the liberal arts’ — the belief that knowledge from and about the past is important for living well in the future.”
Classical liberal arts are key, as Miller explains, to “seeing ourselves as existing in time and managing a range of imperfect complexities.” Design thinking by itself can simplify human experience to a point of making solutions irrelevant.