Creating Innovation: Stifling Education

DS 69: Proceedings of E&PDE 2011, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, London, UK, 08.-09.09.2011

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Crisp, Alan Roy
Series: E&PDE
Section: Creativity in Design Education
Page(s): 172-177


Business, commerce and industry are extolled to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial, education, particularly HE is now drawn into the arena, but in what sense and for why? One questions at what point did HE become the catalyst for economic growth? The question may be answered in terms of new university status i.e.1992. Prior to this date the universities operated research in pure terms leaving the Polytechnics to ‘teach’ to degree level, research for industry and commerce, providing solutions whilst supplying cohorts of specialist graduates for specific fields e.g., civil/mechanical engineering. The concept of the broad university education was the domain of the old universities who fed the professions; the 1960’s universities taught specialist subjects academically, the polytechnics vocationally, none required industrialized innovative or creative skills to graduate or indeed fire the engines of commerce and industry. The datum or level of education required entering commerce or industry was the honours degree, graduants accepting positions at graduate level not necessarily in their ‘subject’; post graduate activity and subsequent gleaning of experience nurturing creativity and consequently innovation. One questions at this point, when did HE become responsible for industrial and commercial activity in terms of creativity and innovation? The answer may lie in the globalization of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services [1]., and the realization that a new profession ‘product design’ had emerged at the centre of industry and commerce; and that new academic subjects had emerged within the European Universities i.e. BA Hon’s Product Design and BSc Hon’s Industrial Design. Julier states ‘Few professions in the industrialized world have grown in terms of economic presence and cultural import as design has in the past two decades’ [2]. This paper argues that although the universities have provided academic support for this new profession, they have not moved wholly to a point where creativity and innovation are taught overtly within the curriculum and that to provide the knowledge bank as advocated by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in its paper ‘Higher Ambitions’ one of two paths must be followed. One would develop a curriculum inclusive of creativity and innovation and therefore follow a multi-disciplinary and vocational approach or excepting that only experiential learning provides for creativity and innovation a second option would be to write curricula that is exclusive and overtly academic by nature, as Van Dijk states ‘this type of service requires intensive cross disciplinary collaboration and sharing’, the ‘T’ shaped graduate [3].

This paper proposes a return to a more traditional curriculum; it suggests product design is not an academic subject but an amalgamation of small aspects of other purer disciplines, suggesting that Product Design is not a profession but again an amalgam of other professions, easily fabricated by experienced graduates of other professions and disciplines; leading to a curriculum that is secular, intensive, able to create a graduate well versed in the techniques required to become on graduation and with acquired experience an asset to commerce and industry as a designer.

Keywords: Creativity; Innovation; Egalitarianism; Curriculum


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