Courses For Non-Majors

Design thinking has the capacity to revolutionize the way we experience the world. It's at the heart of our work as a School of Architecture & Design, and our major students enjoy extensive training to hone their design acumen. 

We're excited to welcome non-major students into this work. Our Minor in Design, Minor in Design Entrepreneurship, and Minor in Photography each pair nicely with any major at KU, and you're invited to consider any of the following courses regardless of your major(s) or minor(s) at KU:

Summer 2022 Options

MWF 11:00a-1:00p

June 8 through June 27

Meets over Zoom

Instructor: Kent Smith (he/him)

Instructor permission required to enroll.


Foundations in Digital Painting will allow students to work through a series of exercises and assignments to gain knowledge and experience, in a variety of methods, for delivery of illustrative designed solutions using digital media. Get your ideas and images out of your head and sketchbook and into the world of pixels and vectors in this skill building course focused on exploration and growth in using texture, blending, color, lighting, pose, storytelling and other foundations of digital painting. Pressure sensitive digital tablet/stylus and Adobe CC required.

Any of these tablets would work:

  • Drawing screen - recommended Wacom One, or Wacom Cintiq 13 or 16
  • Digitizing tablet - recommended Wacom Intuos or Intuos Pro - Medium
  • iPad Pro + Apple Pencil with Astropad App installed
  • Integrated drawing screen that supports pen pressure (e.g. Surface Pro)

July 17 through July 24

Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park (leaves from Lawrence on 7/17)

Instructor: Jeremy Shellhorn (he/him)

Instructor permission required to enroll.


Spend a week camping, hiking, thinking, making and creating interpretative art and design opportunities in RMNP. We will explore en plein aire illustration and graphic design through drawing, brush and ink, paper cut/collage, block printing and stencil/pencil techniques. Students will work on two types of projects for the week: 1. Personal investigations responding to place, and 2. Working with park rangers on the design of collectible/commemorative sticker sets for the Park.

To enroll in the class please email Jeremy Shellhorn about your interest and include the following:

  • Your name, major and year in school
  • A pdf portfolio of your work or a link to your portfolio online

Activities and topics for this class will include:

  • plein aire art & design making
  • campfire critiques
  • history of the art & design in our National Parks
  • Creation of a personal art & design project inspired by place
  • Learning about Interpretative Design and the Park’s Interpretation Strategies from Ranger staff
  • hiking, hammocking and stargazing
  • Opportunity to learn the art of tenkara (Japanese method of fly fishing)

TuTh 1:00-4:00p

July 5 through July 28

Rooms: CHAL 208 + 207 + 211

Instructor: Troy Colby (he/him,

Instructor permission required to enroll.


This course examines and pushes the boundaries of the traditional familiar portrait. Considering notions of form, self, other, access, collaboration, and intimacy, each student Artist/Photographer will create works that feature the Artist and those they call family as the primary subjects. The course will include regular making of photographs, group critiques, technical demonstrations, and theoretical examination of portraiture and self-portraiture through presentations, readings, and discussions. Students of all experience levels will gain an understanding and appreciation of the camera as a tool to explore self and family in a meaningful way.

Open to students in all majors. Cameras available for check-out, or you may use your own – anything from a DSLR to a camera phone goes.

Fall 2022 Options

WF 2:30-5:00p

Room: CDR 150

Instructor: Greg Thomas (he/him)

To request permission to enroll, submit an application at this link.


The Center for Design Research is focused on interdisciplinary interaction in the research and development of consumer products and services. As a working laboratory, it encourages collaboration of KU students and faculty from diverse disciplines to design imaginative – yet practical – solutions to complex problems. The CDR benefits KU and local/national communities by developing new knowledge to advance design as a tool for strategic innovation and process improvement. Modern theory-based methodologies will guide team discovery and focus the efforts of designers, engineers, scientists and business professionals in creating innovative products/services and technologies. Integrated innovation utilizes industry partners including Ford, Intel, Bayer, Sprint, Intel and more. Open to students in any major at KU with instructor permission.

Participants in this course will conduct creative work under the privileges of a course-specific Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and/or other Intellectual Property (IP) contract. Enrolled students will receive the NDA and/or IP contract from the instructor prior to the first session of this course in order to review that contract and, when necessary, discuss any questions and/or concerns they have with the instructor. Please contact the instructor of this course if you have immediate questions and/or concerns. If you are unable to reach satisfactory understanding of your questions and/or concerns about the agreement in speaking with the instructor, please contact the Chair of the Design Department (Jeremy Shellhorn) for additional guidance.

MW 9:30-10:45a

Room: CHAL 315

Instructor: Lilly McElroy (she/her)

No permission required to enroll.

Fulfills KU Core Goal GE3H (Arts & Humanities)


Open to students of all disciplines and experience levels, this course provides an introduction to the medium and language of photography. Basic DSLR camera operation and workflow will be accompanied by lectures, readings, and discussions regarding the historical and theoretical concerns of the medium. A digital camera with full manual controls is required - RAW capable preferred.

MW 12:30-3:05p with Lilly McElroy (she/her) in CHAL 211 + 200A


TuTh 3:20-5:50p with Alec Smith (they/them, in CHAL 208 + 200A

No permission required to enroll


Foundations in Photography (Digital) explores the technical and creative possibilities of digital photography from image capture to print and the web. This advanced introductory-level studio course covers manual camera operation with dSLR or mirrorless digital cameras, basic digital processing workflow with Adobe software, and inkjet print or digital output methods, accompanied by lectures, readings, and discussions regarding the historical and theoretical concerns of the medium. A digital camera with full manual controls and RAW capable is preferred; a limited number of cameras are available for check-out.

Mondays 3:20-8:00p

Rooms: CHAL 213 + 211

Instructor: Mike Sinclair (he/him)

No permission required to enroll


This introductory studio explores the technical and creative possibilities of black & white film photography. PHTO 205 covers manual camera operation using 35mm film cameras, darkroom film developing, and silver-gelatin printing methods, accompanied by lectures, readings, and discussions regarding the historical and theoretical concerns of the medium. Cameras are provided for check-out. No darkroom experience necessary.

Fridays 10:00a-3:00p

Setting: Various KC locations

Instructor: Mike Sinclair (he/him)

Instructor permission required to enroll


Using the tools and traditions of photography, this class will look at the city as a place to explore a wide variety of interests and concerns. We will discover Kansas City’s past and present by walking its boulevards, visiting its cultural institutions, watching artists work at their studios and city government at work in its chambers. From these wide ranging visits, interviews, and walks each student will develop their own response to the city. The class will meet once a week in a wide variety of Kansas City locations. Open to all KU students, permission of the instructor required.

Thursdays every two weeks 6:00-8:00p

Room: BUD 130 (Over Zoom some weeks)

Instructor: Tim Hossler (he/him)

No permission required to enroll. See for exact meeting schedule.


Visiting Design professionals discuss various aspects of their work and the industry of Design. Professionals from all the Design areas of the Department are represented: Illustration & Animation, Industrial Design, Photography, and Visual Communication Design. Students taking this course for credit must attend all seven lectures that compose the series each semester in order to earn a passing grade in the course. Open to all KU students. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

MW 12:30-1:45p

Rooms: MAR 305 + MAR 216A

Instructors: Amy Van de Riet (she/her) + Thom Allen (he/him)

Prerequisite: First-time freshman status

Fulfills KU Core Goal GE11 (Critical Thinking)


A limited-enrollment, seminar course for first-time freshmen, organized around current issues in architecture.

TuTh 2:30-3:45p

Room: LIN 412

Instructor: Farhan Karim (he/him)

No permission required to enroll.

Fulfills KU Core Goal GE3H (Arts & Humanities)


The first unit of the two-part survey history course explores the historical changes of architecture in relation to civilizational change, techno-spatial experiments and town-building efforts, from the earliest evidence of human dwelling to the beginning of the industrial revolution. Emphasis is on the architecture as an integrated development of commercial, technological, and ideological transferences among different regions, nascent religious groups and evolving political enterprises. In regard to the geographical and geopolitical regions, the course includes South and Central America, Europe, Classical Greece and Italy, Asia Minor, North Africa and Asia.

TuTh 5:30-6:45p

Room: MAR 216B on Tues + Zoom on Thurs

Instructor: Nilou Vakil (she/her)

No permission required to enroll.

Fulfills KU Core Goal AE51 (Social Responsibility & Ethics)


This course takes the perspective that architectural design is inherently an ethical act. Through this lens, students will learn the essentials of office practices, the many definitions of client and their roles in the design process, the legal responsibilities of the profession, the importance of continuous professional development and the obligation the profession has to provide civic leadership in regard to the built and natural environment.