Barbara A. Karanian, Ph.D. Lecturer and previously Visiting Professor. Barbara's research focuses on four areas within the psychology of work: 1) grounding a blend of theories from social-cognitive psychology, engineering design, and art to show how cognition affects workplace decisions; 2) changing the way people understand how emotions and motivation influence their work; 3) shifting norms of leaders involved in entrepreneurial minded action; 4) developing teaching methods with a storytelling focus in engineering education.

Barbara teaches and studies how a person’s behavior at work is framed around a blend of applied theoretical perspectives from social psychology and cognitive psychology; engineering design thinking and art. Her storytelling methods provides a form to explore and discover the practices of inquiry and apply them to how individuals behave within organizations, and the ways organizations face challenges. Active storytelling and self-reflective observation helps student and industry leaders to iterate and progress from the early idea phases of projects to reality. Founder of the Design Entrepreneuring Studio ( ) Barbara is the author of, "Working Connection: The Relational Art of Leadership;" "Entrepreneurial Leadership: A Balancing Act in Engineering and Science;" "Designing for Social Participation in the Virtual Universe;" and "Provoked Emotion in Student Stories Reveal Gendered Perceptions of What it Means to be Innovative." In her Stanford courses: ME 378, Tell/Make/Engage - action stories for entrepreneuring class, 'Story' is defined two ways: 1) a story is a form for creating successful engagement strategies and alignment; and 2) storytelling as rapid prototyping - proven methods for iterative development across stages of a research project, a dissertation, changes in career path, or starting-up a company. With her students, she co-authored, "The Power of First Moments in Entrepreneurial Storytelling." Findings show that the characteristic of vulnerability amplifies engagement. For ME 236 class- Tales to Design Cars By- the opportunity to investigate a person’s relationship with cars through the application of research, design thinking, and with a generative storytelling focus-students find the inspiration for designing a new automotive experience. For ME 243 Designing Emotion (for Reactive Car Interfaces) students learn to "know" emotion by operationally defining emotions in self and other: to decipher the role and impact of emotion in the future driving or mobility experience.
Barbara makes productive partnerships with industry and creates collaborative teams with members from the areas of engineering, design, psychology, business, communication, and medicine. Her recent work examines: ways to generate creative work environments; engaging a new professional learning community through a lab and capital focus; motivators for modes of transportation; leader problem-solving for group effectiveness by iterating on an intelligent wall; and perceived differences in on-line and off-line lives. She also bridges the intersection of Silicon Valley and Hollywood in an initiative for building a predictive model using methods (like pre-visualization) for entrepreneurial storytelling success. Barbara received her B.A. in the double major of Experimental Psychology and Fine Arts from the College of the Holy Cross, her M.A. in Art Therapy from Lesley University, and her Ph.D. in Educational Studies in Organizational Behavior from Lesley University. She was a Teaching Fellow in Power and Leadership at Harvard University's GSE.

Current Role at Stanford

Lecturer and previously visiting Professor

Honors & Awards

  • 1st Place Research Paper: "Provoked Emotion in Stories of Motivation Reveal...of Innovation", Entrepreneurship and Innovation Division for The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) (June, 2019)
  • Best Teaching Strategies Paper Award for- "Open Process for Entrepreneuring Team Collaboration...", The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), Entrepreneurship and Innovation Division (June, 2012)

All Publications

  • Seven Steps to Strategic SDG Sensemaking for Cities ADMINISTRATIVE SCIENCES Taajamaa, V., Joensuu, M., Karanian, B., Bettencourt, L. 2022; 12 (1)
  • O-CDIO: Emphasizing Design Thinking in CDIO Engineering Cycle INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION Taajamaa, V., Eskandari, M., Karanian, B., Airola, A., Pahikkala, T., Salakoski, T. 2016; 32 (3): 1530-1539
  • Connecting People and Ideas: Making Sense of a Research Lab through Creating a Shared Frame INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION Sheppard, S. D., Bjorklund, T., Chen, H. L., Gilmartin, S. K., Atwood, S., Brubaker, E., Chew, K. J., Christov, P., Cuan, C., Danner, P., Karanian, B., Kusimo, A., Luehmann, L., Maturi, V., Mbaezue, C., Schaefer, F., Schnell, C., Toye, G., Trego, M. 2020; 36 (2): 796–813
  • Motivators over Modes Diverse Student Team Drives Leading Automotive Company's Evolution to Mobility Platform Greenwald, G., Upender, A., Chan, D., Patterson, C., Karanian, B., IEEE IEEE. 2018
  • Engineering Emotion: Students tell Stories about the Costs of Being Innovative Karanian, B. A., Taajamaa, V., Parlier, A., Monaghan, G., IEEE IEEE. 2018
  • The Power of First Moments in Entrepreneurial Storytelling Karanian, B. A., Eskandari, M., Liao, J., Ahmed, Z., ASEE AMER SOC ENGINEERING EDUCATION. 2013
  • Open Process for Entrepreneuring Team Collaboration: Story Parallels from an Academic Design Team to the Studied Start-Up Karanian, B. A., Eskandari, M., Aggarwal, A., Pincheira, F., Krauthamer, R., Kress, G., Forouhar, P., Dua, J., Peng, C., ASEE AMER SOC ENGINEERING EDUCATION. 2012
  • Designing for Social Participation in the Virtual Universe Karanian, B. A., Kress, G., ASEE AMER SOC ENGINEERING EDUCATION. 2011
  • TELLING DESIGN STORIES: THE RESULT OR THE ENTREPRENEURING INVESTIGATION 17th International Conference on Engineering Design Karanian, B., Kress, G., Sadler, J. DESIGN SOCIETY. 2009: 325–336
  • Work in Progress - Behavioral Aspects of Student Engineering Design Experiences IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference 2008 Karanian, B. A., Chedid, L. G., Lande, M., Monaghan, G. IEEE. 2008: 1399–1400