About the DRC

The Design Research Center (DRC) is a Dallas-based research enterprise sponsored by the University of North Texas (UNT) and led by the College of Visual Arts and Design (CVAD) in conjunction with the Department of Design. The center will focus on three distinct but interrelated activities:

it will function as an applied solutions provider where interdisciplinary teams of scholars, students and professionals collaboratively fuse design thinking with innovative methods to create practical, sustainable solutions to complex social, environmental, technological, economic and public policy problems.

it will exist as a basic research space where original insights into “design-driven” interdisciplinary theory and best practices are formulated and shared.

its combined applied and theoreti­cal research activities will support CVAD’S design-centered MA and MFA Design Research programs.

1. Applied Research > Solutions Provider

The DRC will offer a flexible infrastructure within which intelligent, applied responses to the kinds of difficult problems that arise in our increasingly complex world can be imagined, refined, tested, shaped and released. As an independent design research enterprise, the DRC is equipped to strategi­cally and tactically support its applied research collaborators’ projects as they jointly explore ways to transform current less-than-preferable situations into ones that are more preferred. And, unlike traditional design consultancies, the DRC is not compelled to truncate or limit its research capacities based on a need to achieve short-term financial gain. This competitive advantage allows the enterprise to invest in the long-term suc­cess of its research collaborators.

2. Basic Research > Conceptual Commons

The applied research undertaken by the DRC to solve real-world problems will be supported and supplemented by basic research focused on fostering, documenting and understanding the ways in which teams of scholars, students and professionals can create lucid cross-disciplinary language, blend distinct working processes and increase collective disciplinary understanding. Out of this research will emerge a ‘conceptual commons’ — a space to develop and mature new interdisciplinary knowledge along with innovation theory, tools and best practices. DRC research teams will work inductively to integrate new insights with extant knowledge as a means to invent new services, business models and processes, as well as to develop new or improved ways to utilize existing systems and technologies to achieve more desirable operations and outcomes. The DRC’s applied and theoretical research collaborators will have the opportunity to participate in building this conceptual commons andwill benefit from access to the body of knowledge it will both generate and contain (subject to any necessary non-disclosure agreements).

3. Programmatic Research Support

The DRC will be the research arm of UNT CVAD’S Masters in Design with Concentrations in Design Research programs. The DRC will be an environment within which graduate students will have the opportunity to implement the specialized and rigorously vetted knowledge and skills they acquire during classroom and immersive, lab-basedstudy in these Master’s Level programs. Led by faculty members from diverse disciplines, DRC research projects will challenge teams comprised of students from different professional and academic backgrounds to dissolve disciplinary boundaries, trans­form theory into practice and turn design-driven innovation into sustainable, real-world solutions that benefit the researchpartners of the DRC and a wide variety of population groups. The DRC will enable thesegraduates to repeatedly sharpen the timely abilities they will need to develop and cultivate if they are to flourish in a broad array of rapidly changing social, economic and political landscapes.