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Design Methods for Creative Problem-Solving and Social Innovation

Brief Course Description

This 6-credit design studio is designed to equip social innovation leaders to lead creative problem-solving processes in complex, ill-defined, and ambiguous situations. Students will spend ample studio time individually and in teams to tackle business, societal, and sustainability problems. Through this studio training, students will learn and adopt social innovation thought processes that are applicable to diverse organisations and situations. Students will work both individually and in groups on various design projects to get hands-on experience with creative problem solving and create a portfolio of social innovative prototypes.

P.S. Design Methods for Creative Problem-Solving and Social Innovation*, must be taken in the first semester to ensure students get familiar with the common discourse and practical problem-solving skills before advancing to the more specialised elective courses. 

Overall Course Content and Delivery Mode

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Student Sharing and Activities

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“It’s a challenging start” - Prof. Albert Ko launching the SEIM course by sharing how the design processes will become clearer by applying them to real-world challenges.

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Through “Design Sprints”, SEIM students collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams as they apply design tools taught in the course.

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Thinking by Building – SEIM students construct low-fidelity prototypes to test and communicate their solution to gather feedback from end users.

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SEIM students gathering feedback from end users - an integral part of the iterative Design Process.

Through a series of Design Sprints, M.A. in Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (SEIM) students appreciated how the Design Thinking process and tools can be applied in Creative Problem-Solving.

SEIM students applied the Design Thinking process to redesign the dining experience in the Lingnan canteen. Decked with a variety of Design tools, SEIM students interviewed Lingnan staff and students to understand their motivations and pain points related to dining on campus before proposing creative solutions. Interesting design concepts included 24/7 robotic self-heating devices to allow students to eat anytime, anywhere; and a self-service stir-fry station that allows students to customize the ingredients and condiments to cater to the cosmopolitan taste buds of international Lingnan students.

Students co-created their prototype solutions with Lingnan staff and students to solicit feedback on the designs. This is an integral component of the iterative Design Process.

This empowers SEIM students to be programme managers with a repertoire of design tools for them to pick & choose the appropriate tools for creative problem-solving in the real world.


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Students learning participatory design concepts.

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The elderly were invited to the classroom to share “A Day in their Life”.

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Students designing a fall-prevention smart device.

Participatory Design, as the name suggests, is a design approach that actively involves stakeholders to participate actively in the design process to ensure that the innovation meets the needs of the stakeholders.   

To better appreciate the value of how narrative as a participatory activity informs deep needs of users, a pair of elderly were invited to the classroom to share “A Day in their Life”. Through stories and narratives with the elderly, the design teams embarked on a journey to Re-Design Retirement as Life Beyond the Pay Cheque.  

Solutions from this studio project included app-based service offerings to connect active elders and a fall-prevention smart device to connect elders to relevant healthcare service offerings.