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Denis Weil and Matt Mayfield Lay Out ID’s New Curriculum in She Ji

July 26, 2020

ID Dean Denis Weil and Associate Dean Matt Mayfield outline the redesigned MDes curriculum in the Summer 2020 issue of She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation. The approach considered “the school’s pioneering 80-year history, and the position design holds in today’s tech-oriented world,” to define three key competencies:

  • Embracing complexity: Designers can find ways to visualize and thus simplify the act of framing and communicating complex systems. Learning to create a shared view of the challenge, converge on an approach, and activate a set of interventions allows organizations—public, private, profit, and not for profit alike—to deal with complexity.

  • Cultivating possibilities: Self-organizing by various actors may lead to powerful new ideas, but they emerge from various perspectives and sets of expertise. Design can help by providing stimuli and facilitating the process of unlocking collective creativity and thinking from stakeholders as a group.

  • Driving impactful change: Many of today’s complex problems require collective action. Through storytelling and making ideas tangible, design can help engage and motivate stakeholders towards action. Combined with data-driven insights, design can make an evidence-based case for action and policy change.”

The process revealed three challenges:

  • Covering both breadth and depth
  • Integrating theory with application
  • Managing diverse aptitudes and perspectives

The curriculum structure meets these challenges through modules organized by stages of study:

  • Entry modules to address educational gaps and to orient students to design thinking
  • Core modules to establish competency in the following areas:
  • Concentration modules to build skills for specific design practices, including design research and insight generation, product-service delivery, organization and innovation strategy construction, and product management.
MDes concentration modules: design research and insight generation, product-service delivery, organization and innovation strategy construction, and product management

MDes concentration modules within each practice area.

“The new competencies our students are building and roles that they are filling are crucial to the transformation of societies…Today’s curriculum changes position tomorrow’s designers to lead organizations toward their purpose—from its articulation in the boardroom, to its translation into strategic plans and project spaces, to its co-development and implementation within trans-disciplinary teams that reduce the gap between vision and execution. Design is securing its “seat at the table,” and we at ID are fulfilling our role as practice pioneers as we build cooperative, responsible, and intelligent futures—helping lead people and communities to transform society and the economy.“

Read the full article on Science Direct.