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The World's Best Design Thinking Programs

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 1, 2009

Looking for innovative thinkers? Check out the 2009 list of the Best Design Programs in the World by Business Week. It has both business-based and design-based programs that integrate the best of both methodologies and cultures—39 masters and MBA programs that significantly integrate Design Thinking and Business.

The list includes two schools in China, and one each in Taiwan, South Korea and India.

When I first started this list several years ago, the choices were very limited. Today, colleges and universities in the US, Asia, Europe and Latin America are making big strides in building new programs that integrate design, business, engineering and marketing programs to create new learning plaftforms for creativity.

That’s good because there is huge demand for graduates who know Design Thinking and how to work collaboratively. Increasing that is how all knowledge work is being done. The Design part gives students the methodologies and tool kits to go into new cultures and situations, quickly understand the human needs there, create new options that could satisfy those needs and then iterate quickly to make the right choices before hitting the market place.

The collaborative part is crucial because increasingly people have to know how to manage participation of not only team members but the consumers your are making new products and services WITH. They are now members of the brand, members of the company. “Users/Producers.”

In the US, despite the great strides being made, design education is still lagging design practice in the real world. Silos in American universities still separate Social Sciences from Design

even as Design absorbs Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology and other fields into its methodology. Incentives for professors to team teach in design Design/innovation programs are still lacking while tenure and promotion are still primarily based on traditional academic activities within the traditional academic silos.

If the US is to reverse it's slide in the global economy, it's universities have to do a better job at Design Thinking.

Reader Comments

Mark Whiting

October 2, 2009 9:03 AM

When you are next traveling in Asia you should come by and visit KAIST.

Lorraine Justice

October 4, 2009 5:04 PM

Hong Kong PolyU School of Design has the best of both worlds...East and West. We are exploring design thinking from both vantages. Visit PolyU, too!

Seth McIntosh

October 8, 2009 9:34 PM

Any recommendations for distant learning Design Thinking courses/programs?

bryan boyer

October 16, 2009 1:46 PM

Bruce - the title of this post points to something very important: "Design Thinking Programs" vs. "Design Programs". I'd like to suggest that BusinessWeek use the title "Best Design Thinking Programs in the World" in acknowledgment of the fact that it's really a very specific kind of design that is being looked at.

I and most of your readers may happen to agree that "design thinking" is one of the more critical aspects of the design process, but it's certainly not an all-inclusive definition of design.

Kudos to you for recognizing this in your own post, even if BusinessWeek's official title for the list is a bit of a misnomer.

Christa Avampato

October 20, 2009 3:32 AM

Thanks for drawing attention to this list, Bruce. I missed the publication of it and it will be very helpful for a class I'm teaching through Citizen Schools on Design Thinking!



June 13, 2010 2:32 PM

отлично сделано, интеретсно читать 98)

March 26, 2011 2:41 AM

The_worlds_best_design_thinking_programs.. Peachy :)

April 22, 2011 6:18 AM

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April 24, 2011 6:41 AM

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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