Systems Thinking for Sustainability

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Project Details

  • Workshops

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Let’s play Jeopardy.

Here’s the answer:  “Newspaper, tape, PlayDoh and ambiguous scenes of people on bicycles delivering blue jugs to men in white coats and boots.”

What’s the question? If you’re a junior in design, engineering, education, or business and are enrolled in “Systems Thinking for Sustainability,” an NSF sponsored course at the University of Kentucky, it’s “What were the handouts in class this week?”

Team-taught, this course prepares students to work in project teams to address sustainability challenges. Guest lectures from accross the university provide context and support for key aspects of the course.

Professor John Nash, director of the dLab, delivered a set of two guest lectures, situating design thinking as a tool box of techniques the students can use to support their project work. During the paper tower exercise [image], students learned about team work, distributed leadership, rapid prototyping, and how one should fail early to succeed sooner. Students also practiced honing their need-finding skills using PlayDoh to prototype a utensil [image] to help a partner eat their favorite food.  The juniors also learned the importance of maintaining a beginner’s mindset when observing a setting.

The professors of the course are Dusan Sekulic and Fazleena Badurdeen of the College of Engineering, Gregory Luhan of the College of Design, Margaret Schroeder of the College of Education, and Leslie Vincent from the Department of Marketing.