Alison Carson, Ph.D.

Associate Provost for Academic Innovation and Design Thinking
Alison Carson, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Academic Innovation and Design Thinking at Manhattanville University

Center for Design Thinking, Purchase, NY

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Dr. Alison Carson is the Director of Manhattanville’s Design Thinking Center. Carson is also a professor of Psychology, where her interests lie in cultural psychology, design thinking, and culture learning. Design thinking demands the problem solver to use empathy and the consideration of different perspectives in creating a solution. She has taught onsite and online and worked closely with the Nursing school in developing creative strategies to further the interactivity and inclusiveness of their online learning environment. Recently, she ran a campus-wide design thinking challenge to tackle a number of issues presented by the pandemic, including online learning challenges, social distancing, student enrollment and community support.

Carson earned her doctorate in Psychology from Boston College after completing her B.A. in Psychology at Franklin and Marshall College where she wrote about the spirituality of college students at a small liberal arts college. Carson’s dissertation research investigated concepts of fairness comparing an urban and rural community in the Philippines.

Carson is dedicated to fostering an inclusive, curious, empathetic, and problem-solving student body. She aided Manhattanville in starting their Design for America studio on campus, where students learn and apply design thinking to mission-focused issues.

Areas of Expertise

Immigration and Acculturation

Communities of Practice and Situated Learning

Cultural Psychology

Culture Learning

Nominated by the Student Government Association as Faculty Member of the Year


Club Advisor of the Year Award, Psychology Club, Manhattanville University


Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award, Boston College


Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award, Boston College


Elected member of Phi Beta Kappa


Elected member of Psi Chi (National Psychology Honor Society)



Boston College


Ph.D., Psychology

Boston College


M.A., Psychology


  • Phi Beta Kappa : Member
  • Psi Chi : Member
Selected Media Appearances
Manhattanville University Opens Center for Design Thinking



Alison Carson, Associate Provost for Academic Innovation and Design Thinking at Manhattanville and the director of the new center explained Design Thinking. "Design thinking is a systematic and creative approach that supports the development of solutions to complex problems," said Carson. "There is an emphasis on process that encourages the development of several mindsets including curiosity and discovery, empathy, a growth mindset, grit, willingness to take risks, collaboration, creativity, a recognition of learning from failure, and many other characteristics that we know are beneficial outcomes for career preparedness, and life in general."

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Selected Articles
ePortfolio as a Catalyst for Change in Teaching: An Autoethnographic Examination of Transformation

The International Journal of ePortfolio

Alison Carson, Sherie Mcclam, Jim Frank, Gillian Greenhill Hannum


In this autoethnographic study, the authors/subjects examined retrospective reflections (narratives) on their experiences within an ePortfolio community of practice to help them understand the conditions that led to transformations in their teaching. The theoretical framework of situated learning and cognitive mediation was used to explore this process of transformation and explain how participation in a community of practice might lead to such change. We argue that ePortfolio itself is imbued with specific meaning, which provides potential users with opportunities to connect with its pedagogical potential. Enticed by this potential, individuals are drawn into a community of practice and their understanding of the tools and practices associated with that community becomes increasingly more complex as they become more deeply integrated into the community. As participants move from being newcomers to full participants in the community, their understanding of the tool is mediated by their engagement and practice with it. This engagement and practice leads to greater competence and has specific effects on the individuals' notions of membership and identity within the community of practice. We argue that this framework provides a unique way of understanding how transformation can occur, specifically for faculty and their teaching.

“That's Not Fair" Similarities and Differences in Distributive Justice Reasoning Between American and Filipino Children

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology

Alison Carson, Ali Banuazizi


Distributive justice pertains to choices that individuals make in allocating resources to themselves and others. The present study, based on data obtained from Filipino and American fifth graders, investigated the similarities and differences in resource distribution in the context of two hypothetical scenarios. The scenarios made salient the norms of merit and need. It was found that although both the Filipino and U.S. children generally preferred to divide the resource equally, they offered quite different explanations for their choices. U.S. children focused on the equal performance of the characters in the scenarios, whereas the Filipino children tended to be more concerned with the interpersonal and emotional consequences of an unequal distribution. Furthermore, U.S. children favored merit-based distributions as their second choice, whereas Filipino children showed a preference for need-based distributions in their second choices. Whereas concern for harmony in interpersonal relationships guided equality- and need-based distributions in the Philippines, an emphasis on performance guided equality- and merit-based distributions in the United States. The findings were examined also in terms of the cultural orientations of individualism and collectivism in the United States and the Philippines, respectively.