Illinois Design Education Symposium

March 31, 2017
8:00 am to 4 pm

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Like all great projects, our efforts to define design thinking and learning on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus are a living thing. They will change as society does, as our expertise does, as our students’ passions and needs do.

But these efforts will always be broad, and they will always be open. An urban planner or an architect? Design at Illinois needs you. A scenic artist or performer? Design at Illinois needs you. An engineer developing global water systems? A healthcare innovator? A political scientist developing voter-protection policies, or a scholar furthering understanding of past policies? An entrepreneur? A social worker developing mental health programs? A biologist at the bench, an educator in the schools, an anthropologist in the field? A disruptor of the present and the familiar?

Design at Illinois needs you.

Following the announcement of the Siebel Center for Design, conversations across this campus have made clear that students in every discipline are hungry for experience in the broad range of approaches and processes captured by the idea of “design.” It’s time to develop shared goals to this end, anchored by the new Siebel Center for Design but embedded in every corner of campus.



On March 31, we’ll meet to further hone our shared definitions of design and the core educational experiences Illinois students will take advantage of in the new Siebel Center for Design and beyond.

The workshop will be interactive, building on last year's town halls and symposium, but also welcoming new people to the conversation. Your participation is welcome for part or all of the day, and will include work with interdisciplinary groups to hone emerging campus curricular goals in design, including identification of resources needed to fulfill them. Come and roll up your sleeves, bringing your questions and ideas toward building a new culture of design education across the disciplines at Illinois.

Our work will be organized around five topics, formed on the basis of conversations held with almost 200 faculty and staff across the campus in Fall 2016:

Design learning for first-year and early education

How can every student on campus be exposed as early as possible to design-based processes and approaches to inquiry and problem solving? Such exposure should be sustained throughout the degree programs, and should include techniques and experiences in the design of objects, experiences, products, arguments, ideas, processes and policies. This will require a large-scale curricular effort at the Provost’s level.

Interdisciplinary team collaboration

Project-based group learning and interdisciplinary inquiry are essential to preparing students for life after college, and they offer the richest basis for professional success. These attributes are present in many classes and programs across campus, but more and more advanced cross-disciplinary, project-based opportunities are needed. A well-trained and formal network is needed to support instruction using these methods.

Working with outside clients and service opportunities

Preparation for any vocation should include engagement with the most urgent issues facing humanity today. As the very definition of work changes before our eyes, how can we prepare students to be actively, adaptively, and successfully engaged in professional and civic life? Many units connect their students with clients and mentors in industry, policy, public, and educational sectors in productive partnerships outside their coursework. These should be cultivated across campus and should combine disciplines wherever possible.

Illinois innovation stories and distinctive contributions to design

The competitive student recruitment environment requires that campus efforts in design learning be original, distinctive, and substantive. No one has developed a design initiative that expresses the land-grant mission, with its responsibilities for the health of the state, its people, and its economy. How can our learning environment embed students in the unique innovations and sense of community service that Illinois provides?

Day One courses and activities for the Siebel Center for Design

The Siebel Center for Design will be much more than a physical space. It will be a campus-wide hub for student-focused design thinking and learning. With an emphasis on technology, creativity, purpose, and collaboration, the center’s early courses and programs will set the tone. They must be carefully selected and developed to ensure the center has the largest possible impact. What activities already underway could serve as initial programming for the Center, even before it opens in 2019?