Universal Design = Our Design

Full Course Title: 
Universal Design = Our Design
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
163: TR 9:30 - 10:45 AM
Fall 2017
The Arts
Student Success

How often have you heard yourself or someone else say “What a lousy design! Why is this thing not working?” On a daily basis we encounter designs of physical spaces, systems, and products, some of which are easy to navigate or use and others that stop us in our tracks. In this course, we will explore the concept of universal design (simply defined as “removing barriers to access”) from multiple perspectives. The term “universal design” was coined in the late 1980s and resulted in the creation of universal design centers across the globe. In tackling both the theoretical and practical aspects of this concept, we will use a principle taken from physics known as the "least action" principle. What it means for our purposes is that the best design is one that minimizes required action (inputs) while integrating the experiences of as many people as possible into the design.


 Dr. Margot Olson recognizes that the first year of college has many challenges both inside and outside the classroom. Her FYS class is geared toward two broad learning outcomes—gaining a perspective on the environment through a look at design of everyday things and getting acquainted with all that our university and region offer to enhance quality of experience at AppState. The two areas complement each other since the experiences provide opportunities to evaluate design. Plus, Margot lives in an accessible home, where you will visit for a tour of aging-in-place concepts, and where you will meet Banks, her pampered golden retriever.

Margot is Professor and Coordinator of Interior Design at Appalachian State University. She completed doctoral and master’s degrees at Florida State University and a bachelor’s degree at Carnegie-Mellon University. Margot specializes in residential interior design with an emphasis on aging-in-place, accessibility, and universal design. Her current research interests relate to aging-in-place in both the residential and the active-leisure industry. For more than 10 years, Margot has served in leadership positions with the American Society of Interior Designers, Carolinas Chapter, recently serving the three-year term as President-Elect, President and Past-President. Margot was chosen as the Outstanding Educator for ASID Carolinas Chapter and was chosen Outstanding Faculty Member for the College of Fine and Applied Arts by the Student Government Association.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Rick Klima

QEP Global Learning