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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Sustainable Design for Non-Designers

This paper describes the structure and learning outcomes of a new professional master program called Design Driven Innovation that is aimed at training non-design professionals in applying design thinking to develop sustainable solutions for complex societal challenges.

The design process is often seen as an effective way to develop sustainable solutions. This is not only about developing new products or services, but also about finding answers to broader societal questions. Policy development, new legislations, behavioural or systemic changes could be seen as examples to such solutions. At the moment, systemic design approaches are mainly addressed by people with a formal design education, especially from the fields of product and service design. Studies show that such a design approach can also be relevant to professionals from other backgrounds, in line with Herbert Simon's statement that "everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones" (1988).

In order to make non-design professionals familiar with the design process, the authors have developed a one-year professional master's program (60 ECTS), in which ‘Design Driven Innovation professionals’ will be trained. The program is based on the completion of six learning outcomes that have been determined through the professional profile that has been specifically formulated for this master’s degree. After explaining the methodology for profiling the participating professionals, this paper explains the six learning outcomes, their origination, the elements that form these outcomes and the assessment methods for each of them comprehensively.

A learning outcome is considered in the program as “a measurable result of a learning experience which allows us to ascertain to which extent/level/standard a competence has been formed or enhanced” (Nuffic / TUNING Association, 2010, p. 21). The six learning outcomes of the DDI master are titled as: (1) Design Practices, (2) Value Creation, (3) Systems Transformation, (4) Sustainable Development, (5) Leadership & Change, (6) Design Research and when combined, they describe the impacts and results that a DDI professional can achieve after the completion of this program.

The structure of the DDI master program can be explained as obtaining knowledge by designing solutions for real-life complex societal challenges for a sustainable future together with real stakeholders. The participants are expected to create their own unique combinations of the six learning outcomes and develop a personalised learning route to achieve their intended learning goals. The assessment is done on the basis of an individual portfolio and a personal reflection on the pre-determined learning goals.

The authors expect this new master's program to contribute to sustainability education by training non-designers in the application of design methods, combined with the knowledge of sustainable development, value creation, system transformations and leadership to actually realise the intended change. The personalised nature of the program makes the required knowledge and expertise available to professionals from a variety of fields, without limiting the potentials design thinking carry for finding sustainable solutions for societal problems to formally trained designers.

Peter Joore
NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences

Sine Celik
NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences


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