Teaching Innovation Through Interdisciplinary Courses and Programmes in Product Design and Development: An Analysis at 16 US Schools
10 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 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 an interdisciplinary setting with a strong experiential emphasis, such as product design and development. In this paper, I compare and contrast 14 courses and three programmes in interdisciplinary product development at 16 leading US schools. The overall finding is that while the courses appear similar on a high level, there exists substantial variation in the details. In particular, the way in which multiple disciplines are involved in these courses and programmes varies substantially. Similarly, while a team-based term project tends to be the common element across the courses and programmes, the degree of fidelity to which the products and services are developed varies considerably. Overall, although these courses and programmes tend to be very labour and co-ordination intensive, their success has established the legitimacy of interdisciplinary, experiential product design and development education at leading schools in the US.
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