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Artifacts from the future: student collaboration at the University of Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business's Design Futures program is an attempt to rethink traditional approaches in business school education and make foresight-based learning more accessible.

The goal is to bring together students from multiple disciplines to imagine and visualize the future in the form of "Artifacts from the Future." This collaboration blends the efforts of business students (as part of their required Foresight in Business and Society course) and industrial design students (as part of their Digital Solid Modeling course) to define future societal needs and to design the technologies that might address them.

The collaboration occurs at the midway point of the business student teams' futures research projects, after they have conducted background research and completed some forecasting and scenario development. As the design students are introduced into the process, the combined interdisciplinary group explores implications of change, seeking to gain empathy with the "future user" and to spot and interpret the needs that will emerge five to 10 years from now.

The teams then brainstorm on potential opportunities for business, and then they present them in 2-D and 3-D renderings. The artifacts are then synthesized into the final foresight reports that the business students submit.

Here are some examples of student artifacts:

Students report that the cross-disciplinary approach helps to expand their thinking.

"Sometimes it can be difficult to think outside of our business training," says undergraduate business student Mike Darche, "but the Artifacts from the Future collaboration helped us improve our ideas by providing access to very diverse perspectives. Working alongside a cross-disciplinary group helped us arrive at new, creative solutions that we may never have discovered without these different perspectives."

The Business/Industrial Design collaboration is an example of Notre Dame's efforts to stretch the learning experience to fully immerse students in the foresight--and design futures--mind-set.

Sam Miller is the director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame and a concurrent instructor for courses in strategic foresight, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Michael Elwell is a visiting assistant professor of industrial design at University of Notre Dame.

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Title Annotation:Foresight Education Programs and Courses; Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business's Design Futures program
Author:Miller, Sam; Elwell, Michael
Publication:The Futurist
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2014
Words:352
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