Global Innovation and Design Lab

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The Global Innovation and Design Lab will serve as a foundational program at UW Tacoma and is designed to reach across all campus schools and units.  Using the principles of design thinking, it will offer workshops as well as credit and non-credit courses to a dynamic cross section of students, staff, faculty, and community members.  It will showcase innovative solutions to real-world challenges at local and global scales.  Innovation and design thinking are pivotal underpinnings of effective planning, performance, and problem-solving for all community, industry, and government sectors.[1]

Our vision is a world of ethical and creative problem solvers. Our mission is to create the conditions for inclusive innovation, by providing design thinking training and material resources to prototype and deliver human-centered products and services.

Design thinking is an interdisciplinary process for creative and human-centered problem solving. It places the human experience at the heart of its process. It is widely used across industry, nonprofits, government, and academic institutions to ask better questions, redefine problems, increase agility in finding solutions, deepen collaboration, and expand opportunities. The design lifecycle includes empathy, ideation, prototyping, and testing for optimal impact. Learning from failure, embracing ambiguity, and acting collaboratively are germane to this process. Learn more.

The Global Innovation and Design Lab is open for hosting innovation and design workshops and activities, including classes, workgroups, and makers. To reserve the space, please submit a room request via 25Live or contact Alexis Wheeler at

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The team includes:

Executive Director:

Divya McMillin, PhD

Executive Director, Global Innovation and Design Lab

Divya McMillinDr. Divya McMillin (Ph.D. 1998, Indiana University Bloomington) is Professor of Communication in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, and founding Executive Director of the Global Honors Program and the Institute for Global Engagement. McMillin’s pivotal work on the impact of satellite television on audiences and the television format industry across the world, have led to three critically acclaimed books, International Media Studies (Blackwell 2007), Mediated Identities: Youth, Agency, and Globalization (Peter Lang, 2009), and the anthology Place, Power, Media (Peter Lang, 2018). Her critical analyses of global cities, soft power, and the social impact of convergence technologies, are widely published in top tiered journals and anthologies, meriting her Top Paper Awards from the International Communication Association, and marking her as a postcolonial scholar who has shaped the field of International Cultural Studies. McMillin is recipient of the UW Distinguished Research Award (2012) and the Distinguished Teaching Award (2017). She serves on various international journal editorial and book publishing review boards, as well as the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Faculty and Staff:

Bronwyn Clarke, MPHIL

Bronwyn ClarkeProgram Assistant Bronwyn Clarke recently graduated with her Master’s in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford. Before that, she studied politics, economics, and global engagement at the University of Washington Tacoma, was actively involved in student government, and interned at the Washington State Legislature. Her master's research focused on how social innovations in the U.S. and U.K. are pioneering participatory service design for families facing disadvantage. She is passionate about combining public service and rigorous research to advance social justice. She currently lives in Lacey, Washington.

Emma Rose, PhD

Emma RoseDr. Emma Rose is an Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at UW Tacoma with an adjunct appointment in Human Centered Design & Engineering at UW Seattle, where she is the co-director of The Momentary Experience Lab (MeLab). Her research interests include participatory and human-centered design and developing methods to engage communities and vulnerable populations in the design process. She has a PhD in Human Centered Design and is currently a Co-Investigator on an NSF funded project to design a social robot to address teen stress. She is also the Chair of ACM SIGDOC, a professional organization dedicated to the design of communication. Prior to her academic career, she spent over a decade working at a consultancy helping organizations bring design thinking into their practices and product development.

Eugene Sividas, PhD

Dr. Eugene Sivadas is Professor of Marketing and Director of the MBA program at the Milgard School of Business. He was previously on the graduate faculty at Rutgers Business School, Rutgers University and has also taught at Emerson College and the University of Cincinnati. Professor Sivadas serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Health Communication and International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Health Care Marketing. He is widely published in leading marketing journals such as Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Marketing Letters, Journal of Business Research, Industrial Marketing Management etc. and his work has been cited more than 3500 times by other researchers. His research interests are in the area of inter-firm and customer relationships, construct measurement issues, and citation analysis. 

Huatong Sun, PhD

Huatong SunDr. Huatong Sun is Associate Professor of Digital Media and Global Honors Faculty Council member at the University of Washington Tacoma. She teaches and practices on how to design and innovate for usable, meaningful, and empowering technology in this globalized world to bridge cultural differences. Her first book with Oxford University Press won a top research book award in technical communication and received industry endorsements from “Fast Company |CoDesign” and “User Experience Magazine.” Her forthcoming book explores global social media design. Affiliate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at Fudan University, China and a 2017 Theodore von Kármán Fellow of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, she has been on multiple program boards of design related conferences, editorial boards, and executive committees of professional societies in the disciplines of professional communication, design, and HCI.

Josh Tenenberg, PhD

Josh TenenbergDr. Josh Tenenberg is a Professor in the School of Engineering Technology at the University of Washington Tacoma. He has an undergraduate degree in Music, and a MS and PhD in Computer Science. He carried out advanced study at the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. He carries out research in Design, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, and Computing Education. He served as the founding Co-Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Computing Education 2009-2015.

Alexis Wheeler, JD

Program Coordinator Alexis Wheeler was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and studied History and Political Science as an Honors student at the University of Washington, before earning a JD at Harvard Law School and an MSc at the University of Westminster (London, UK). Funding her UW education through merit and need-based aid, Alexis learned early to seek out educational opportunities, from summer research fellowships at Princeton and the University of Illinois to study abroad programs in Italy and South Africa. These experiences inspired a lasting commitment to global learning and exploration.

During law school, Alexis gained international legal experience as a summer associate at White & Case's London office and as a Harvard Asia Law delegate to South Korea.  Returning to Seattle in 2010, she counseled international clients as an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and served as Secretary of Hostelling International’s Washington State Council, organizing and delivering talks on educational travel. Seeking additional international experience, Alexis went abroad in 2012 to backpack across Europe and pursue further studies in London. She returned eager to build a globally-focused career in education.

 [1] Fulfilling the American Dream: Liberal Education and the Future of Work. (2018). Hart Associates. Retrieved September2018:


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