Teaching Innovation Through Interdisciplinary Courses and Programs in Product Design and Development: An Analysis at Sixteen U.S. Schools
21 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2009
Date Written: May 29, 2009
If innovation is understood as a process of inventing and commercializing new products and services, as a process that incorporates activities from multiple disciplines, and as a process that follows more heuristic than algorithmic rules, then perhaps this process can be taught in a interdisciplinary setting with a strong experiential emphasis such as product design and development. In this paper, I compare and contrast fourteen courses and three programs in interdisciplinary product development at sixteen leading U.S. schools. The overall finding is that while the courses appear similar on a high level, there exists substantial variation in the details. In particular, I find that the way in which multiple disciplines are involved in these courses and programs varies significantly. Similarly, while a team-based term project tends to be the common element across the courses and programs, the degree of fidelity to which the products and services are developed varies considerably. Overall, although these courses and programs tend to be very labor and coordination intensive, their success has established the legitimacy of interdisciplinary, experiential product design and development education at leading schools in the U.S. I close the paper with a discussion of future research issues.
Keywords: Teaching innovation, Interdisciplinary, Experiential learning
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