Kristin Hughes

2024 Unstoppable Voters Faculty Fellow Kristin Hughes

Kristin Hughes (she/her)’s research and practice focus on how community-designed solutions can catalyze participation and action. Her commitment to working locally is by design. Geoff Mulgan, a renowned social design innovator, provides this design talisman, “Some of the most important innovations evolve in a zig-zag line with their end uses are very different from those originally envisaged. Sometimes action precedes understanding. Sometimes doing things catalyzes the ideas. There are also feedback loops at every stage, making real innovations more like multiple spirals than straight lines.” Through the ongoing work and the people with whom Kristin has had the privilege of working, form these multiple spirals, which continue to propel me to discover new areas of inquiry, seek partnerships outside of the discipline, and build authentic relationships with communities so engagement lasts overtime.

Her grounding in communication design and art gives her a wide range of ways to craft visual narratives and effective content solutions at all stages of the design process. This process is more evident in Kristin’s teaching. She works to scaffold classroom experiences that invite the outside in (real-world problems) and nurture the inside out (identity, self-expression). Kristin encourages conceptual interpretation and experimentation as students learn to use their voices as content creators and authors. If the scaffolding is sturdy, it affords students the creative confidence to learn, grow, and support the change they deem possible.

Kristin Hughes cooking with friends at the Night Owl Bakers

About Carnegie Mellon University

The School of Design is located within a top-ranked, multidisciplinary research university—a distinctive place where design, arts, sciences, and humanities intersect. Carnegie Mellon is renowned for its cross-disciplinary problem-solving approach, and our programs advocate for an integrated design process incorporating perspectives from all these disciplines. Teaching and research within the school investigate design for interactions as a catalyst for change, exploring how people conceive, plan, and script behaviors. We study how new technologies reshape daily practices and consider how society can live and work sustainably and equitably.

Faculty Fellowship Focus

________ (but only if we vote): Reenergize, activate, and mobilize the largest voting group in the country through effective communication campaigns! When we exercise our right to vote, we plan a future with purpose and possibility.

“I am excited to discover creative ways for cross-generational learning to happen inside and outside the classroom to protect our democracy—and ensure everyone has the resources, freedom, and access to voting.”

– Kristin Hughes, Professor of Design, Carnegie Mellon University