Catholic Social Thought and Design Thinking: Putting the Option for the Poor into Practice

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Catholic social thought offers a vision and principles for a community wherein all creation flourishes. An important principle in Catholic social thought is the option for the poor, which describes the commitment of the Catholic Church to the well-being of the marginalized and vulnerable. However, the body of Catholic social thought does not necessarily focus on models or concrete practices to actualize said principles, as these will be dependent on the particular context of the people living out the principles of Catholic social thought. Catholic social ethicists require resources and tools to help put these principles into practice, especially in the face of complex social issues such as poverty or economic inequality. One such possible tool is design thinking, a problem-solving methodology used by organizations in the face of wicked problems. Design thinking offers concrete tools that can help communities solve challenging problems and has been used in the social sector as well as in business. Thus, this article argues that design thinking offers a concrete methodology that encourages creativity and systems thinking in crafting solutions to unprecedented and complex problems in order to help people exercise the option for the poor more readily. Design thinking can help provide language and strategies that can illuminate and operationalize the option for the poor in ways that are understandable and helpful for all, even those who may not necessarily subscribe to Catholicism.