Interior Design Program


Date of this Version

Spring 4-20-2011


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Katherine S. Ankerson. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2011


Healthcare design has been recognized as a legitimate area of specialization[1], a field. Expertise in the healthcare design and building process is needed. Where and how future healthcare design practitioners will be educated remains a challenge. While the evolution of research-based design for health facilities has grown since the 1980s little is known about how healthcare designers should be educated. [2] An understanding of personal qualities a graduating student is expected to possess is important to their education. [3] Knowledge about the qualities that determine excellence in healthcare design practice is sparse. By understanding which qualities have been effective, application to other areas such as education can be explored. An educational curriculum based upon reproducing the qualities of excellent healthcare designers through proven educational methods is possible in furthering an understanding of practice. The qualities of excellent healthcare designers underlie this topic and can act as a source of new knowledge.

Everett M. Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations theory provides an underlying reference point for comparison. Growth of the healthcare design field closely tracks this theory’s adoption curve and demand for healthcare design education may follow. Conceptual factors of social system, communication channels, diffusion, innovation, and time, each present in this theory, are examined concerning impact on excellent qualities and healthcare design education.

A unique opportunity exists to focus educational aspects of healthcare design and to set a direction for future design education. Critical evaluation of educational curricula and desired qualities of excellence may allow both educational institutions and the field to understand and select best practices for educating and maximizing potential of future healthcare designers. Researching the qualities necessary to demonstrate excellence forms the seminal idea behind this thesis.

Adviser: Katherine S. Ankerson


[1] D. Kirk Hamilton, “Is Evidence-Based Design a Field?” Health Environments Research & Design Journal- Vol.3, No.1 (Fall 2009):97, 98.

2 Hamilton, “Is Evidence-Based Design a Field?” 99, 100.

3 Sandel, Lenore, ed., Teaching with Care: Cultivating Personal Qualities That Make a Difference.-Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association, 2006