It’s easy to exercise creativity during childhood, when imaginations are unrestrained. But as we grow up, we learn to leash our imaginations, to criticize our own creativity. The open parks of childhood become the closed spaces of our grown-up selves.
Design thinking seeks to re-liberate our creativity, but the forces and learned behaviours pushing against it are strong. To see how design leadership can nurture fresh ideas, I spoke to Gabriele Simmons, a Senior Project Assistant at the Innovation Hub.
How methods from Anthropology influence the Innovation Hub By Victoria Sheldon, Writer The Innovation Hub takes a student-centred approach to improving campus life. Since launching in 2016, we have provided campus partners with insights into the student experience: how students…
By Ahmed Hagar, Writer Many faculty members and higher-education administrators believe that design is the solution to addressing difficult problems. As society grows ever more complex, design thinking provides a way of putting humans first while tackling thorny issues. Thus,…
What does space mean to you? According to Dictionary.com, it’s a noun: the “expanse [where] material objects are located and […] events occur.” But it’s more than that sterile definition—it’s what constantly surrounds us, what we inhabit, and thus part of our mental and physical experience.
The Innovation Hub has conducted many projects examining the experience of space. Examples include Transforming the Instructional Landscape, Chill Spots, and the New College Dining Hall and Clara Benson Pool Gallery redesigns. Through this work, we’ve seen how the physical environment impacts us.
We learn by experience, as Innovation Hub members know. Since the Hub launched 3.5 years ago, many students have practised their design thinking, empathetic interviewing, data analysis, and professional skills through our projects. Recently, we’ve formalized this learning experience by partnering with academic courses. We provide practical projects for students to work on, and UofT’s excellent faculty and course instructors provide their subject expertise. Together, we provide a richer learning environment for students.
This question is central to the Innovation Hub’s methods. We use design thinking to take “a human-centred approach to solving problems,” and since the rise of empathic design in the late 1990s, designing for humans first has meant empathy.1
After our work last semester with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, we are thrilled to see their recently released Final Report and the accompanying Administrative Response. As readers may remember, our Mental Health team led eleven feedback sessions for the Task Force. Our six initial events invited students to discuss their mental health experiences and informed the draft themes. A further five events collected feedback on those themes.
On Thursday, January 9, the Innovation Hub launched the third edition of our Design Thinking Experience Program (DTEP). As in our February and September 2019 programs, we are working with participants to understand and solve challenges at UofT using human-centred design thinking and empathy-based approaches. This time, in addition, we’re thrilled to welcome staff members back to our design teams.
To design for students, we need to understand the student experience. Thus, the Innovation Hub prioritizes learning to listen—interviewing empathically and attuning ourselves to the world revealed through participants’ words. Though ‘listening’ is a basic skill, listening deeply is another art, and learning is an important part of the process. Some Innovation Hub members come with experience from anthropological, sociological, or other human-centred research, but many others are new to empathic interviewing. How does this learning process go for them? What do they find challenging and interesting?
Playing with sticky notes isn’t just for kindergarten classrooms. For universities and colleges who practise design thinking, these little pieces of paper serve as creative tools, and a wall covered in rainbow-coloured sticky notes can lead to big ideas. The Innovation Hub’s Transforming the Instructional Landscape (TIL) team experienced this earlier this semester, when we collaborated with our project partners at Academic + Campus Events (ACE) in a Journey Mapping session.