So it would seem that design thinking is having a moment. I know, I know. This is not news. After all, once something has hit the twittersphere with the force that design thinking seems to have (#designthinking), the moment may actually be almost over. But this is exciting for me, because it means that the methods of problem solving that I am seeing designers engage in the studio space as a part of the Doing Design Thinking study are starting to break through into the ‘real world’ in more than just a business-book-of-the-day way. So maybe design thinking is having a moment.

But what is more interesting to me than the buzz word of design thinking, which has been tasked with fixing itself, and destroying itself, and replacing itself too (the poor term has a lot on it’s shoulders!) is how we can use it as a tool set to develop innovation, and how we can share it in a post-secondary setting to help students and researchers meet the challenges of the future.

Innovation is at the heart of all of what we do, especially at the University of Calgary: it is our key to improving our competitiveness, to evolving how we look at existing problems and how we spot opportunities for change in our world. You can learn more about that part here, in a new essay series by the Centre for International Governance Innovation. We can think of innovation as the successful exploitation of new ideas, and as the vehicle for carrying those new ideas through to new products, new services, new solutions for challenges. Sustained success, especially in a research and teaching driven space like UCalgary – increasingly depends on our ability to innovate: to nurture, grow and share new ideas and new opportunities.

We’re putting that practice to work with students at the University of Calgary in so many ways, at it forms a key component of our renewed 2017 – 2022 Eyes High vision.

“Much like the city itself, the university is now a global destination for people with ambitious dreams and the drive to fulfil them. Our students, faculty and staff embrace the power of curiosity every day, continually seeking and sharing new knowledge that will benefit society. Together, we are building a community of discovery, creativity and innovation right here in the foothills of the Rockies.” (President Elizabeth Cannon, Calgary Herald)

Our task, as a University, is to nurture and foster innovation: to provide students in undergraduate and graduate programming with the chance to learn through inquiry and collaborative creativity in order to develop the tools to tackle the challenges of the future. This comes to life at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, home of the University of Calgary College of Discovery, Creativity and Innovation where students tackle unique courses focused on global challenges (this year’s Global Challenge Inquiry course tackles feeding 9 billion people!).

The CDCI on our campus is, to me, the embodiment of what I think research like the Doing Design Thinking study can contribute to teaching and learning: it is a space where students and faculty from across disciplines can connect creativity and innovation practices using tools like design thinking in order to think critically, experientially and collaboratively about the challenges of the future. They’ve made a great intro video for those of you who haven’t had the chance to learn about the CDCI:

Introduction to the CDCI (2017)
University of Calgary, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

I’m just so excited that the UCalgary College for Discovery, Creativity and Innovation is here, and that undergraduate students from across disciplines are coming together as a cohort to connect with these exciting ideas. Maybe design thinking innovation is having a moment after all.



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