Are Entrepreneurship and Transformative Innovation Appropriate as Prime Foci for Product Design Curricula?

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: Lawson, Stuart
Series: E&PDE
Section: Design Education and Business 2
Page(s): 59-63


Should the teaching of business skills and knowledge within the context of Product Design BA and Masters-level curricula be focussed more towards entrepreneurship and transformative innovation than to professional practice and sustaining Innovation through enhancement? Are these pairings natural bedfellows or do the latter represent a partial ‘dumbing down’ of design education that would miss-serve an important minority? Design education should prepare graduates for the realities of the workplace and therefore their major works shouldn’t necessarily translate into market-ready products or entrepreneurial pathways. Graduates should be able to empathise, interpret and ideate through practical and intellectual skills which don’t necessarily focus on paradigm reinvention. Are commercial acumen and market awareness worthy foils to entrepreneurship and transformative innovation given that the former are likely to ultimately offer a more relevant foundation for the majority of design graduates? Whilst a broad understanding of the commercial realm, encompassing market awareness to disruptive innovation, can be taught together, should the fundamentals of commerce and the market be the mainstay of BA and BSc curriculums, with entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation being the crucible of Masters-level study? This paper will seek to establish appropriate strategies for design curricula via the analysis of a primary research study that canvasses opinion from educators, graduates, design employers and design managers.

Keywords: Design curricula, entrepreneurship, commercialism, innovation


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