Co-creating the future through design-based education in innovation hubs
Keywords:Design Factory, Challenge-Based Innovation, Design-Based Education, Challenge-Based Learning
Creativity and innovation have become prominent in higher education curricula. Applying a design paradigm has been frequently used to build innovative and creative skills in graduates across different discipline domains. Besides the design approach, another element that is important to increase innovation in organizations and society involves multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral cooperation. This observation triggered the establishment of the Aalto Design Factory in Finland in 2008, establishing an integrative, multidisciplinary education platform for design and experimentation. Offering vision, space, and courses focused on building capabilities to collaborate and innovate, Aalto Design Factory started sharing its reference model with other universities, supporting the establishment of other Design Factories worldwide. In 2022 the Design Factory Global Network (DFGN) included 37 co-creation platforms in 25 countries across the world. Sharing and learning from these experiences has become a crucial resource to develop DFGN operations further. One avenue where this takes place is a yearly meeting between the partners of the DFGN. In order to broaden the discussion beyond current Design Factories, as well as extend considerations from teaching and management to research, the first Design Factory Global Network Research Conference (DFGN.R) was piloted. In October 2022, 68 participants from 11 countries presented 22 studies at the first DFGN.R that took place at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. This special issue presents five selected papers that were first discussed at the DFGN.R 2022. The studies approach innovation and education from complementary perspectives and methods. Most of the studies have been conducted at one of the Design Factory hubs, showcasing the range of collaborative activities that happen in these hubs to increase innovation capabilities. Taken together, these five papers from three different continents give a glimpse into the activities taking place in the various Design Factories around the world. They explore how new approaches to innovation and creativity in Higher Education can take place, through applying effectuation theory and social learning theory, featuring metaphors such as cooking and sailing to inspire co-creation in action. We hope that these experiences will inspire educators, researchers, students and organizations active in Design Factory’s and similar co-creation platforms, to continue experimenting with the design paradigm, by exploring approaches and skills towards innovation and creativity that are imperative to champion change.
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