Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University

Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design in DHM
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without! -New England Proverb


Sustainable design is a philosophy that guides design practice to ecologically benign, socially equitable and economically viable outcomes. Also known as good design, the intention of this philosophy is to use designed spaces, objects or messages to prompt meaningful behavioral changes that advance a sustainable society.

The interior design, apparel design and merchandising fields present exciting challenges for future professionals to apply this philosophy to commercial and residential interior spaces, apparel design and manufacturing, as well as merchandising strategies. The Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising offers curriculum opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students that will prepare practitioners to mobilize their industries for a sustainable future.

 Click to View
Student Blog Posts

Get a Minor in Sustainable Design! 

For DHM majors (15 hours total)

The minor requires 12 credits and the three credit hours (DHM 1101 and two other modules) already required for all DHM undergraduates.

  • DHM 4583 Sustainable Design Capstone
  • Plus nine (9) additional modules from the enclosed course list.

For non-majors (15 hours total)

The minor requires 12 credits, including DHM 1101 and a capstone course.

  • DHM 1101 Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice
  • DHM 4583 Sustainable Design Capstone
  • Plus 11 additional modules from the enclosed course list.

Courses are open to all majors! Each course is 4 weeks and one-credit hour with the exception of the capstone course. Optional modules can be taken any time during a student’s program.

A la carte COURSE LIST

All DHM undergraduate majors are required to complete three (3) one-hour credit short courses in sustainability education, including DHM 1101, choosing from the a la carte menu below. Each short course is worth one credit hour. All graduate students must also complete three short courses, choosing from those designated by an * below.

DHM 1101 Wicked Problems of Industrial Practice (recommended for undergraduates prior to enrolling in other courses)
An overview of the complex and seemingly unsolvable and ever-evolving environmental and social issues (wicked problems) of today’s industrial practice. A brief introduction to sustainable design theory is also provided.
DHM 4001 Design and Merchandising Speakers Colloquium
Seminars presented by distinguished industry professionals. Current issues and implications for the future of apparel and interiors.
DHM 4031* Empathic Design
Exploration of a socially-oriented approach to sustainable design. Learners “step into” the lives of socially constructed groups in the U.S. to develop empathy and perform hands-on research and design.
DHM 4041* Triple Bottom Line Analysis
Quantitative analysis and evaluation of the economic, environmental, and social costs associated with industry practice.
DHM 4051* Biomimetic Industrial Practices
Exploration of sustainable solutions to challenges imposed by human beings through emulation of principles inherent in how nature works with an emphasis on applications in design.
DHM 4061* Active Design
Principles of design of products and human-built environments that encourage physical activity, improving the health of individuals, communities, and the planet.
DHM 4071* Communicating Sustainable Practices
Exploration of the variety of ways in which designers and merchandisers communicate sustainability product and service features, including an examination of regulatory oversight and other mechanisms that support transparency such as certification, labeling, and reporting.
DHM 4081* Design Activism
Exploration of theories for social and environmental justice addressing designers’ and merchandisers’ roles as positive change agents. Focus on theories and applied methods demonstrating activism as a catalyst to reinvigorate the social practice of design and merchandising.
DHM 4091* Sustainable Material Flows
Introduction to the design philosophy that biological and technical waste can be recycled indefinitely to feed the manufacturing industry. Case studies of practical applications. Challenges and rewards regarding implementation of the design principles.
DHM 4101* LocalMotive and the Supply Chain
Principles and concepts of local commerce and sustainability in the supply chain from an interdisciplinary perspective.
DHM 4111* Ethics for a Sustainable World
Exploration of ethical dilemmas and decision-making criteria in design and merchandising practice.
DHM 4121* Sustainable Textile Innovation
An examination of textile production and use practices that are detrimental to the global environment: includes exploration of legislation, practice in established and emerging economies, and technological developments. Alternatives and the companies working to create a more sustainable textile industry will be explored.
DHM 4141* Lifecycle Analysis in Design and Merchandising
Principles and application of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) technique for products, processes, and activities. Analyses of energy and material inputs and outputs and their impact on the environment and human health; implications for decision-making.
DHM 4151* Sustainable Consumption
An exploration of principles and concepts of sustainable consumption and analysis of the application of sustainability in consumers’ daily lives.
DHM 4583 Sustainability Capstone
Students will work with a community leader and/or organization to complete a transdisciplinary service learning project that requires the application of sustainable design concepts to solve a local problem. Course culminates in the public dissemination of lessons learned.


Diane Limbaugh

Diane Limbaugh

Diane Limbaugh
College of Human Sciences
Oklahoma State University
429E Human Sciences
Stillwater, OK 74078

Phone: 405-744-0400