We live in a complex world. 

Complex communities. Complex individuals. Complex technologies and systems attempting to solve complex issues. At the Center for Socially Engaged Design, we believe complexity must be addressed using multiple perspectives. How? By asking intentional questions. By engaging with others. By considering the broader context of design. By applying rigorous, collaborative design processes. By
co-creating solutions with the people and communities who will use them. The result? Solutions that
are more contextually relevant. More sustainable. And more complete.

Welcome to C-SED. Let’s design for this complex world, together.

We Research, Educate, and Practice

The Center for Socially Engaged Engineering & Design (C-SED) advances sociotechnical thinking and skillsets of engineers and designers by creating evidence-based, transformative learning experiences for students, instructors, and practitioner learners.

C-SED is dedicated to creating a future where engineers habitually integrate their technical knowledge and abilities with societal inquiry to constantly pursue holistic, equitable, and sustainable technology solutions. 

We support this future by advancing the sociotechnical thinking and skill sets of engineers and designers by creating transformative learning experiences for students, faculty, and practitioner learners. These experiences leverage novel educational content, tools, and methods developed by C-SED in robust and reciprocal partnerships with its diverse community stakeholders within and beyond the University of Michigan. These engineering education experiences are rooted in our commitment to fundamental research and the development and application of evidence-based strategies for sociotechnical integration in curricular, co-curricular, online, and professional development settings.

Key Activities: 

  • Creating original content for engineering & design courses and working with instructors to avoid “othering” social topics
  • Facilitating class sessions and integrating content within courses, co-curricular work, and professional settings.
  • Researching and assessing outcomes to improve the content and facilitation strategies
  • Establishing new educational courses and programs.

Our approach. 

Socially engaged engineering & design is human(ity) centered – not just user centered. 

Engineers design technology, often before there is a clear end-user or client to empathize with. While this can be seen as a license just to see the good in the activity, socially engaged design pushes the designer to think about the broad societal implications and possibilities for unintended consequences at the earliest possible moments of design. These implications include social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental factors that can completely change the design of solutions. It is dynamic and iterative. Further, socially engaged engineering & design pushes engineers & designers to analyze how their own power, privilege, identities, and cultural context shape their approaches and impacts.

Socially engaged engineering & design is about people, about context, about understanding and analyzing ourselves, and about making decisions with equity in mind.

Learn More about the socially engaged design process.


Our team is dedicated to supporting designers in building a foundation in socially engaged design. Bringing diverse perspectives and expertise in a broad range of disciplines, they help drive C-SED’s environment of curiosity and collaboration to help solve real-world problems.


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