Harold G. Nelson

Harold G. Nelson, Ph.D.


Dr. Harold Nelson is a visiting scholar in the School of Computer Science at the University of Montana. He was the 2009-2010 Nierenberg Distinguished Professor of Design in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. For over twelve years Dr. Nelson was the head of the Graduate Programs in Whole Systems Design (WSD) at Antioch University.

As a consultant, Dr. Nelson has worked with a variety of organizations, including: non-profits and corporations, state and federal agencies, international governments, and the United Nations, and continues to work as an educator, consultant, and researcher in the field of organizational systems design where he brings both design thinking and systems science to the study and design of organizations.

He is a past-president and a trustee of the International Society for Systems Science; a position previously held by such notables as Margaret Mead, C. West Churchman, Ilya Prigogine (Nobel Prize recipient), Sir Geoffrey Vickers, and Russell Ackoff. He is the co-founding Director and President of the Advanced Design Institute, a not-for-profit.

Dr. Nelson received his Ph.D., graduating with distinction, from the University of California at Berkeley. He also received his Master of Architecture degree from U.C. Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Montana State University. He is a licensed architect in the State of California. Dr. Nelson studied architecture at the Technical University in Helsinki, Finland where in addition he studied ceramic design at the Athenaeum Fine Arts Academy.

In 2004, “The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World”, a book co-authored with Dr. Erik Stolterman, received the Outstanding Book of the Year award from the Division of Instructional Development of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

Selected Works

Design Theory/ Philosophy
The Design WayA book that lays out the fundamental concepts of design culture and outlines a design-driven way to approach the world.
Journal Article
This article introduces design and systems thinking as a means for redesigning organizations and institutions
This article introduces the importance and challenge of creating a culture of design.

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