Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Macdonald, I., Malone, E., Firth, R.
Group for Learning in Art & Design
Crossing national and disciplinary boundaries to learn through co-creation
Nottingham Trent University
International Refereed Conference
Optional Fields
Since 2000 the collaborative practices of Design and the value of other disciplines interacting with Design have been increasingly recognised through research. The Design Council report, ‘Multi-disciplinary Design Education in the UK’ (2010) argues that In order for nations and organisations to meet their future economic and social goals Design and innovation skills are critical skills that need to be experienced and gained thorough collaborations with industry, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Design and design methods are arguably ideally beneficial within interdisciplinary contexts, because it is a deeply human activity. Design is inherent in human cognition, the process is human centric and collaborative, adaptive, iterative, diverging and converging in a non-linear and looping pattern. The nature of design practice in industry tends to bring designers into contact with clients and users from every walk of life and discipline. Building empathy and trust are paramount to successful creation and delivery of products and services (Redström and Wilste 2019; Lowgren and Stolterman 2004). Our research examines two case studies: one interdisciplinary involving Biological Sciences and Product Design, and another that is transnational. Both involve a blended delivery of immersive face-to-face learning and an element of online collaboration. Using qualitative methods of interviews and reflective journals with participating students and lecturers the study examines the pedagogic value and impact of ‘difference’ and ‘place’ when working and learning collaboratively. The rewards for developing understanding and sharing methodologies can extend beyond solving research questions to enhance the researcher and student learning experience. When academic researchers and students are given the opportunity to work together outside the confines of the curriculum and inhabit a space of ‘otherness’ in playful learning, liberated thinking and uninhibited ideation can transform patterns of learning and problem solving. Differences in culture, in this case of learning and discipline, are the essential tools in creating the other (Abu-Lughod 1991; Bhaba 1994). One study aimed to use interdisciplinary co-design workshops (Steen 2013; Steen, Manschot and De Koning 2011; Kleinsmann and Valkenburg 2008) to create opportunities for bringing scientists and designers to work together, exposing them to the challenges of developing accessible immunology materials and to develop a pathway to reconcile them through empathy and reflective practice (Schön 1992). A second study is of a series of international design thinking workshops between a network of Higher Education collaborators in Europe and America. These transnational week-long events established site specific, community based workshops using outdoor learning spaces in each host country. Product design students and researchers collaborated to deliver solutions through physical prop making, storytelling and filmic outputs. The impact of COVID has necessitated the development of a workshop model that blends locally based face-to-face with online international collaborations. This presentation illustrates the pedagogic and research value of co-creation across boundaries of discipline, nationality and place. We argue that resilience, determination and the appreciation of the power of collaborative problem solving can transcend these boundaries, and the restrictions of movement and shared spaces.