Some of the team at Michigan State University’s Experience Architecture program wrote an article for User Experience Magazine and they do a great job of describing what’s so exciting about their program.
I agree completely with a program rooted in the humanities, for the reasons they described. Human values are necessarily the heart of what we do in user experience, and something that, while I don’t believe the University of Michigan School of Information was against, it wasn’t really something that entered the conversation.
It’s interesting to see programs that are created when it’s taken as given that there is a user experience field, and it is a field where people find jobs. When my own school, UMSI, reorganized to incorporate Human-Computer Interaction, it was the early days of usability in industry, and I don’t think there was as clear of a career path.
However, I do have reservations about efforts to push more people into the user experience field. Michigan is not a hot market for user experience (or any job, really). I worry that we’re giving young people the skills they need to evacuate the state, or to engage in a frustrating job search.
But much more importantly, seeing an undergraduate program in UX spring up (and this is in addition to UMSI starting its own undergraduate program) makes me wonder about the future of our field. Does it hasten the day when there are no distinct “user experience” job titles, and instead the skills are taken as a given in a variety of different jobs?