Dexign Futures Unleashed at Tsinghua University in Beijing


In his first trip to Beijing, the School of Design’s Peter Scupelli delivered a three-day international workshop at the China University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education Research Center. Scupelli also delivered a keynote speech titled “Olympics as Desirable Futures” and was nominated to the China National Art Fund, which trains innovative art tech talents for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

More than 40 university professors and students attended Scupelli’s three-day workshop, “Design Thinking and Future Thinking,” from Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Zhengzhou University and Huazhong Normal University. Scupelli is considered a pioneer on teaching innovations for design education due to his course Dexign Futures co-developed with Arnold Wasserman and Judy Brooks.

The workshop focused on how to teach design thinking using the “flipped classroom” pedagogy. “The flipped classroom format allows one to push the lecture portion of the class onto an online platform where students watch videos, answer questions, and receive immediate correctness feedback,” said Scupelli. “During in-class sessions, instructors can discuss homework questions and help students apply through hands-on design exercises.”

The three-day workshop was structured on three key points. First, identifying the dreams, hopes, challenges, and opportunities for the desirable learning outcomes for specific learners.

“We led the students to imagine desirable learning futures for their students. They focused on teaching innovations, opportunities, and challenges  that students may encounter in desirable learning situations,” said Scupelli.

On the second day, students explored online learning experiences from the Dexign Futures course on Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI) online learning platform.

“What’s great about the OLI online modules is that they provide immediate feedback to students on their comprehension of the content at home and they free up time in class to focus on the application of the ideas into design activities in class so that the instructor can answer questions while the students are working,” added Scupelli. “In the flipped class format students receive initial exposure to the concepts outside of class, thus freeing up class time for active learning (e.g., discussion, peer learning) and application activities (e.g., applying concepts to project work).”

The third day of the workshop focused participants on how to encourage reflective practice for students.  

“I was flattered and humbled to be invited to teach university professors in China about teaching innovations that I’ve developed with the support of Judy Brooks of the Eberly Center of Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation over the years for the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University,” said Scupelli. 

“My workshop students developed incredibly interesting learning scenarios. I learned so much from their fresh perspectives and ideas. I hope that new collaborations will emerge in the future.”

After the workshop, Scupelli delivered his keynote speech “Olympic Projects as Desirable Futures” at the China National Art Foundation. Scupelli’s keynote was part of the launching ceremony and forum for the Art and Technology Talents Training Project for the Winter Olympics, held at the Academy of Fine Arts of Tsinghua University. Scupelli was appointed to be an advisor for the China National Art Fund – Training Innovative Art Tech Talents for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. 

In "Olympics Projects As Desirable Futures,” Scupelli frames thinking about the future development of the Winter Olympics from the perspective of Dexign Thinking. He suggested that the project team think of sustainable long-term development for the Olympic Games and not only design for 2022, but look ahead to 2050 and even 2100.

“Futures are made by design,” said Scupelli. “We looked at Herb Simon’s definition of design as going from a current situation to a preferable situation. The 2022 Winter Olympics are a strategic opportunity to imagine preferable situations in year 2050 and 2100.”

Scupelli also noted that from his perspective, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s plan for 2050 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as examples of desirable futures to inform the design challenge of the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

The National Art Foundation “Art and Technology Innovation Talents Training for the Winter Olympics” will be officially launched in August.

Images courtesy of IEEAC.

Date Published: 
Friday, July 27, 2018
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