Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Art and Design

First Advisor

Paul Bruski


Relationships are synergistic. Relational theories describe how we create and sustain relationships and take into consideration our own experiences, our own social location and include broad cultural signifiers. Part of our development as people is to learn about power; our own power, and others' power. This thesis offers the combinational addition of Relational-Cultural Theory and the Connectivity Model to the spectrum of interaction design. Since interaction design is about designing mediating tools for people and their subsequent behaviors, particular attention is needed into establishing and maintaining relationship between designer and audience.

Relational-Cultural Theory pushes against typical patriarchal structures and values in the United States. These typical "power over" values/structures include men over women, whites over blacks, logic over emotion, provider over nurturer, and so on. Relational-Cultural Theory seeks a flatness of power. It creates a sense of shared power, or "power with" others. This idea of shared power can lead to collaborative creation in interaction design to produce useful and good designs.

Empathy, mutuality, and authenticity are essential in recognizing our own limits and strengths in connection with others. Building trust requires a mix of all three of these tenets, as well as evolution through conflict. Interaction designers can move toward creating an inclusive theory for this discipline by becoming vulnerable and sharing power with the people with whom they design interactions. Therefore, the rhetorical framework of empathy, connectivity, authenticity, and trust (e-CAT) is presented as a means of creating and evaluating interaction design.


Copyright Owner

Cyndi Wiley



File Format


File Size

137 pages