This paper reflects on the development and delivery of a co-curricular short course and design sprint for undergraduate and postgraduate students focussed on Circular Economy Principles. The integrated course and sprint were designed and delivered by the Innovation Hub in the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture, UNSW Sydney – a project-based initiative focussed on problem solving through creative, collaborative and inclusive teams of staff and students.
Typically, design sprints bring teams together over a common problem, however they rarely integrate the pre-knowledge required for teams to commence collaboration from a common understanding of the problem space. The design and delivery of the Innovation Hub Circular Economy Design Sprint 2023 sort to respond to this and two further observed issues within the design and humanities education space. Firstly, how do we teach Circular Economy principles in a wholistic way that acknowledges the immense systems change that is required to enact a circular society? By this I mean, how do we incorporate the necessary considerations and design implementation of policy, governance, education, management, systemic and structural changes alongside the more commonly discussed functional design, material science and built environment approaches? Finally, how might we better provide students with real and active experiences of interdisciplinary collaboration, to exercise their interdisciplinary imaginations alongside peers from fields broader than the parallel design disciplines – such as the sciences, health fields, engineering and business?
This paper draws on the author’s first hand experience of co-creating a Circular Economy short course, and designing and leading a design sprint with a cross faculty cohort of students – bringing together disciplinary knowledge from the faculties of Arts, Design & Architecture and Science. The paper considers the agility afforded by the co-curricular space when establishing cross-faculty, interdisciplinary experiences for students and reflects on the successes and learnings from the process of integrating targeted short course materials within a design sprint format. This pilot has led to a repeatable course structure with the ongoing potential to offer students real experiences of interdisciplinary collaboration with fields outside design, and in doing so better prepares students with the skills required to collaborate more effectively on climate solutions and other wicked problems of our time.