June 04, 2012

Design thinking and the university

The university is the location for (and product of) millions of individual projects of construction - a constant industry creating new artefacts and events: essays, seminars, lectures, modules, programmes, conferences, web sites, portfolios, eportfolios, marking schemes, reading groups, meeting agendas, research networks, communities of practice, collaborations with industry, technical services...things tangible and quantifiable, as well as elusive but ineliminable intangibles: values, personal agendas, hidden agendas, subjectivity, reflexivity, identities, allegiances, journeys, futures...everywhere production and the production of production.

Throughout these productions, an uneasy tension recurs between standardisation and a desire for the unique, for difference. A sophisticated design capability should help us to deal with these opposing forces. How common is such a design capability? This question is of three-fold importance:

  1. design capability enhances innovative production within the university;
  2. graduates with a well developed design capability are better placed for working in a world where most people at some point will be involved in design-led projects - in business, education and social innovation.
  3. where academic activity interfaces with the world beyond the institution, design is essential.

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