Design thinking in social innovation: unlocking the enterprising student

Jenny Flinn, Elaine Ritch

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


gher Education Institutions are facing increasing pressure from government, employers and
students to ensure that graduates are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to
succeed in the 21st century workplace. In the context of contemporary competitive and
economic pressure, HEIs have a key role to play in developing graduates with the skills,
knowledge and attitudes for any work situation and render them able to adapt as the external
environment requires (Melhuish, 2017). Adopting design thinking as a tool to develop problem
solving skills and deepen critical thinking (Liedtka, 2014) offers a framework for social
innovation (Tschimmel, 2012). Social innovation has particular relevance as HEIs seek to
demonstrate their commitment to civic awareness (Hallet, 2019).
HEIs can adopt numerous methods to enhance the employability of their students by allowing
them to transfer their learning into the ‘real world’; Guide and Van Wassenhove (2007) indicate
that collaborative projects between academia and industry can provide students with real life
relevance. However, as Hurn (2016) points out while the role of industrial partnerships within
HEIs as a whole has been well documented, less well documented is industrial engagement in
live collaborative projects. This paper attempts to fill this gap in the research by examining the
ways in which design thinking is integrated into modules on the BA (Hons) International Events
Management and BA (Hons) International Marketing programmes at Glasgow Caledonian
This paper will offer an insight into the ways in which industry cannot only be engaged within
HE but can be embedded within teaching and learning to the mutual benefit of both the
organisation and students. Drawing upon our experiences at Glasgow Caledonian University of
working with a range of industry partners, we will examine the ways in which partnerships can
be developed, managed and maintained to enhance graduate employability and offer unique
benefits to the organisation
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2019


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