The Wicked Problems of Lean Technical Communication:

A Case for Design Thinking in Curriculum and Programming


  • Emma Kostopolus Valdosta State University


design thinking, lean technical communication, online writing instruction


In this article, the author demonstrates how bringing together the critical frameworks of design thinking and lean technical communication can help meet diverse stakeholder values and promote technical communication curriculum within an institutional context. Specifically, outlined within is one faculty member's attempt to create a socially just technical communication curriculum that exists entirely within an asynchronous and accelerated online format. This article leans on how the empathetic capacities of design thinking and the value of sustainability inherent in lean technical communication come together to forefront equity and inclusion in course design, for student populations who need to be able to access their education more flexibly. At the same time, it is important to recognize that curriculum must be attuned to the needs of faculty as well, and that educators (particularly contingent labor) are not asked to complete unfair or disproportionately difficult pedagogical tasks. This framework points to methods for how administrators can use design thinking to outline various stakeholder needs and draw connections between institutional values and programmatic needs, to create an equitable and inclusive online curriculum that best serves students. 


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Author Biography

Emma Kostopolus, Valdosta State University

Emma Kostopolus is an Assistant Professor of English at Valdosta State University, where she acts as the primary Technical and Professional Communication faculty. Her other work on innovative TPC and digital pedagogies can be found in Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, Computers and Composition Online, and ImageText: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Comics Studies.




How to Cite

Kostopolus, E. (2024). The Wicked Problems of Lean Technical Communication:: A Case for Design Thinking in Curriculum and Programming. Programmatic Perspectives, 14(2). Retrieved from