About me

The journey of a changemaker starts with questions.

Embracing complexity and promoting design capabilities for a better world

Hello!  This is the personal website of Laura L. Murphy. Find some of my presentations, articles and other materials under Projects. Find course syllabi, workshop descriptions and samples under Teaching & Learning. Find links to Related Interests & Connections. 

I am a transdisciplinary scholar, designer, and educator. I aspire to see more people embracing complexity and promoting design capabilities for a better world. I teach design thinking and system thinking for social innovators, aiming to cultivate design capabilities to help us navigate complexity and address wicked problems. Broader interests include: human-environment interactions, the anthropocene and our climate crisis; (international/global) development studies, livelihoods and survival strategies, the social shaping of technologies.

Formal education: I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Values, Technology & Society (Stanford) and a doctorate (from UNC-Chapel Hill) in City and Regional Planning.

My informal education: living and working around the world since the 1980s in private, government, non-profit and academic settings. My formal employment started with our family-run small Yosemite Airlines based in Columbia, California, from about 1975-79. I worked with WALHI, the Indonesian Environmental Forum, in Jakarta from 1983-1986, and as a program officer at the Canadian High Commission in Kenya from 1988-1991. I helped start up the Population Environment Research Network around 2000-2002.

Employment: I have had a faculty appointment at Tulane University, New Orleans since 1998, and am currently housed in the Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences (SBPS).  I teach graduate courses on international development theories/critical perspectives, development and a hands-on “social innovation toolkit” of systems-thinking and design-thinking. I have been associated with the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking (Taylor) at Tulane (as one of the founding staff) in 2014. I started teaching public design workshops, the undergraduate design thinking for social impact course, and the Fast 48 bootcamp in design thinking in 2013. I support Taylor’s initiatives to promote positive and transformative change through thinking, writing, and presenting, and promote other thinkers and writers about changemaking and social innovation: research and scholarship. 

Contact information: You can reach me at lmurphy2 at gmail dot com. I welcome collaboration in research, teaching, outreach, and writing. I consult for organizations in the social sector across design thinking, social innovation, and related themes. 


Recent work: A map of the landscape of social innovation theories/ideas. Visit https://tulane.app.box.com/s/ned7m8bfxza7qon2um6vkigrcze4zoga