Transcript for the video: Postgraduate Design

Abby Mellick Lopes (00:03):

Hi everyone. I’m Abby Mellick Lopes, course director of Postgraduate Design Studies here at UTS. Before we kick into the webinar proper, I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation upon whose ancestral lands our City campus now stands. I’d also like to pay respect to the elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians for this land. So as I said, I’m course director of Postgraduate Design Studies. I don’t know if I’ve met any of you who are attending tonight. And I think I’ve got some people joining us from other parts of the world, so wherever it is in the world, I hope you are well. So just to tell you who I am, my area of expertise is in industry partnered design research in sustainability, circular economy, transitions, and urban design futures. I’m one of the team of award winning teachers and researchers in the Master of Design program, and I’ll introduce you to some others of those in a minute.

I’m also joined by professor Cameron Tonkinwise, who will go into a little bit of detail about our core program and majors. So, as I said, I’m going to introduce you to our new Masters of Design program. As I’m sure many of you are aware, UTS School of Design has a world class reputation for design education in product fashion and visual communication design. It’s in the top… It’s the top design school in New South Wales, and the top 25 in the world according to the world university rankings by subject. So we’re now building upon the quality of those undergraduate programs to offer a master of design in service design and design leadership. We focus on the disciplines of social design, service design, and design leadership. And yes, service design is among the top two of the top 15 emerging new careers according to LinkedIn.

For service designers, we are finding needed across all areas of government, health, transport, justice, in finance and tourism, just to mention a few sectors. And although our course is quite new, we’re finding our students are coming from a wide range of sectors including, but certainly not limited to, design. Our research discussions with a range of design leaders has shown us that there’s an international supply shortage of education providers globally who are adequately equipping students in these important and mature design skills. We are one of only two courses in Australia offering robust service design education. And the only one in Sydney.

So as many of you may be aware, design is changing. Designers are increasingly required to design digital and physical products that facilitate another design outcome, which is services. Services are complex but clearly define sets of human interactions that occur over time, from a first encounter, through various experiences, to an end point of a satisfying service delivery. Booking a hotel requires service design, but so… Sorry. But so does a very different setting interacting with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit having just given birth to a preterm baby. So you can imagine there are very different sorts of human experiences involved in that service. Service designers will focus on improving such services or indeed creating entirely new services that meet the changing needs of society. To design service as well, designers need new sets of skills and competencies, in addition to their material technical craft design skills. At the forefront is a deep and empathetic understanding of people and how people, often less than consciously, try to meet their everyday needs.

This requires social research, but also social engagement, talking to people, facilitating conversations between people, and collaborating with others, where the clients, stakeholders, other designers, really to work out what design are required in a particular situation to improve, change, support or indeed introduce a new service. Service designers require a practice facility with these skills but also with a range of concepts, tools and methods that designers can deploy and modify in complex stakeholder settings. It also requires high level communication skills. Service design is needed wherever organizations, government agencies, communities want or need to interact with customers, patients, students, citizens or groups of people to improve an existing service or introduce a new one. At the core of good service design is an empathetic, inclusive and culturally aware understanding of people in their practices, gained through experiences that stretch students technically, intellectually, and sometimes even emotionally. In our course, we are looking ahead to a better society and believe design has a part in leading change towards more socially just and sustainable futures.

Students will therefore learn to design future services and use those carefully researched futures to support the real world transition toward them, often with industry partners. So now to introduce you to our team. Our staff are award-winning teachers and researchers and professional designers, including the core staff pictured here. Cameron Tonkinwise on the left is a leading service design expert who has returned to UTS after a decade in the U.S at Parsons, a new school, and Carnegie Mellon University, where he established the design leadership discipline of transition design. Professor Tonkinwise’s work has had a transformative impact on how designers are educated internationally. Also pictured is Dr. Lindsay Asquith with white glasses, as director of the Design Innovation Research Center. And with a PhD in architecture and behavior, Lindsay has led industry partnered research in public housing and health and justice. An example of a project is one mitigating violence in hospital emergency departments.

Her work delivers social design outcomes that have transformed the way that people, organizations and communities experience their worlds. Bridget Malcolm below is a senior strategic designer and an expert facilitator, with a background in stakeholder engagement across the public and private sector. Bridget is passionate about supporting leaders to evolve their practice, to address increasingly complex social issues. In 2020, Bridget led project on preventing sexual violence at UTS, for which the team won the Good Design Award for Social Impact. They are joined by a team of external professionals and adjuncts of the school who are working in the industry, including CEO of the Center of Inclusive Design, Manisha Amin, adjunct professor James de Vries who is director of Deluxe and Associates, formally of Second Road and Harvard Business Review’s creative director, and Sasha Abram, a senior service designer with service in New South Wales. This stellar team is set to expand as we continue to develop partnerships with a wide range of industry leaders, each of whom bring unique skills, experiences and connections into the program.

The experience of this team and our work specializing in social and service design with industry and partners, including those listed here, informs our curriculum, which means that everything you study will be based on real world tools, methodologies, projects, and partnerships with an emphasis on social justice and sustainable futures. We are also forging career paths for our graduates with these partners.

So we have four postgraduate courses, two graduate certificates, a master of design, where you can major in service design or design leadership, and an extension option which is awarded if students wish to take both of those majors. Students will also in our courses gain access to complementary courses at UTS through electives in interaction design, business, data visualization, and we are also developing a service design study stream within the new business MBA. All of our programs combine theoretical learning with hands on practice, work integrated and research led learning. Sorry, this image isn’t particularly good. We’re in the process of developing a lot of our assets and we will launch our website, but I will talk through this in more detail as we go on. So just to give you a sense of the shape of the program, students can come into our program with or without a design background.

Those without a design degree will need to do the graduate certificate in design first, which provides design practice fundamentals drawn from our highly successful undergraduate programs. These students are looking at a course duration of three semesters or one and a half years. Those with a design background can go straight into the service design core, which is the blue ring subjects in the middle, before selecting their major in either service design or design leadership, or they can come in through the graduate certificate in social and service design. These students will be looking at a duration of two semesters or one year. And then if students want to do the extension, that will add a further semester to their studies. Our students work across three modes, a seminar mode in which students achieve a deep foundation understanding in the discipline engaging in theoretical learning. They read, talk, listen, conduct short exercises connecting what you’re gaining in the readings with real world examples. In workshops, you are engaged in practical learning, acquiring a new technique or method that is practiced in our industry projects and in our research.

And then you will learn to apply those methods in the third mode, which is our studio mode. And here is where students partner with industry to solve challenging and multifaceted problems in teams, and also learn and gain experience in articulating the value of their designs, your designs, through professional presentations. So just digging into those options a little more, the graduate certificate in design is an entry point into the masters for those without an undergraduate design degree. This graduate certificate is composed of four subjects in which students acquire the basic design building blocks that will underpin the rest of their studies, including visual communication and business communication, interactions, design prototyping, and human-centered design research. We often get inquiries from students about how postgraduate students, about how they can access some of our undergraduate design programs. And we are in a process of allowing further options in the graduate certificate of design to become available.

I just wanted to show you an image from the last semester. Obviously, we’ve been in lockdown. We have students that are both domestic and in lockdown domestically in Sydney, but also overseas. And here’s an example from a Miro board displaying student work in the subject interactions around repair cultures. And we have a student residing in Shanghai, on the left, and a student residing in Sydney very much working together and collaborating using the collaborative platform Miro. The Graduate Certificate in Social and Service Design is an entry point for those either with or without an undergraduate design degree. This graduate certificate is composed of four subjects that provide a taster of the whole masters program and can be credited towards it. We’re finding, even though we’ve had a couple of iterations of this, this is a superb experience for those students who have moved through it. Several of them have transferred into the masters. A couple of them have already found jobs in these fields, so we’re very proud of this program.

We have four subjects: a service design foundations, which is a seminar. Two workshop subjects: problem framing and co-evolution of problem solution, where techniques that our core staff have developed over many years in their industry projects, students acquire their skills. And then leading design for social innovation, which is a studio with an industry partner. Most recently, we partnered with a major bank to explore the very tricky social issue of financial elder abuse and scamming. And this is just a snapshot of a student report on. And I mentioned before that Lindsay Asquith had done that project. This was a student situated in Berlin who was working in problem framing on that project, mitigating violence in hospital emergency departments. So what I might do now is hand over to Cameron to perhaps talk a bit about our service design core and then the two majors.

Cameron Tonkinwise (14:25):


Abby Mellick Lopes (14:25):

Is that okay?

Cameron Tonkinwise (14:26):

Yeah, thanks Abby. A quick way of summarizing this core is to say that service design, as Abby has indicated, definitely an up and coming field. There’s a lot of need for it in industry at the moment and not a lot of adequate education. The number of people who are working as service designers have been exposed to a couple of the tools often through short courses, which might be something like a service blueprint. And very quickly we are discovering as we begin to talk to both clients and consultants and some of these service designers, very quickly finding that they really need to understand a lot more about the complex context in which they’re working, and to have more sophisticated and mature ways of approaching being a designer and being a service designer, and a lot of the consequences associated with being someone who is developing new services on behalf of communities, organizations, and businesses.

So a couple of these subjects are repeat from the graduate certificate. So if you do the graduate certificates on entry, they get credited across. Abby’s already talked about the problem framing, which is core to the lot of the work that Design Innovation Research Center, and it’s designing out prime project we’ve done over the last decade and more, in which they concentrate more on framing… reframing problems rather than ideating, which is sort of the dominant mode of thinking about doing design thinking, for instance. To that, we’ve added some other core subjects that we think are absolutely necessary to be a mature designer, to be a master of the practice of being a designer and particularly service design. So inclusive design introduces really the new ways in which people are having to design, which is a lot more co-design, a lot more facilitated design, a lot more designing with rather than designing for.

And a great way to learn this is through the kind of history of accessible design of designing for particular types of disadvantage or disability, and now thinking about that as something which is a generalized condition, and that you really need to work with people with lived experience in this. So we have a really interesting module around inclusive design. And then we couple that with a subject on futuring. Designers are the people who make the future, but they’ve often not been taught how to future well. So there’s problem framing and there’s inclusive design and future visioning, the next two subjects, as I said, really go to being a mature designer who is acting as a leader and advocating on behalf of design innovations. Design and business is an attempt to introduce students to the value of design, ways of evaluating design and ways of arguing for the value of design. It looks at the history of the kinds of needs and desires that design satisfies, and then it gives a quick survey of strategy.

If somebody’s done an MBA, they probably don’t need to do this subject, but in a lot of ways this is everything you need to know about an MBA to be a designer, or at least to be a designer who’s engaging with people who have MBAs. So this is a really interesting and important subject, really looking at the value of design. And then organizational design whilst the studio, very much a practical course is recognizing that all design, particularly at the level of service system design, is actually about changing whole organizations, not just introducing a new product or service into a static fixed organization. So this subject also introduces students to really understanding a lot of the history of why humans cooperate in the way they do, the way they collaborate, the organizations that they create, the communities that they create to sustain those kind of collective actions, and the way in which design can help that.

This is a quick example of just a recent co-design exercise that we did in which we were working for New South Wales circular. We were thinking about coming circular economies. There were a range of different partners in the room, from local council members, to waste managers, to some really strong indigenous activists. And in that space, it’s a really tricky and difficult space to manage. And so we teach people how to facilitate this kind of co-design so that people are working together in order to create visions of the kind of future they want for what a circular economy in New South Wales would be. These are really rich experiences. I personally find them a lot more interesting than being the sort of designer who sits in a studio just silently making something that you hope the world is going to like. This is a really rich process of engaging with lots of politics, and we can give you some of the skills and techniques for doing that.

Abby Mellick Lopes (19:11):

Cameron, can I just add there that this image of a workshop canvas is designed by a student intern. So this is a really powerful point at which visual communication moves from that studio experience into the social experience of the co-design workshop, mobilizing visual communication skills to really facilitate that social complex collaborative design workshop that you see there in that image.

Cameron Tonkinwise (19:34):

And again, I think that’s the key difference about you could learn facilitation and workshop design from lots of different places, but obviously we are teaching that as a design school. And so we bring an intention to material quality to all the things that we do. And I think we can demonstrate how much the difference that that makes, the increased value that comes from working with that level of material [inaudible 00:19:56].

Abby Mellick Lopes (19:56):

Yep. And so the other major… So sorry. After the core, we have the two majors. I think Cameron, did you want to actually just briefly talk about the two majors?

Cameron Tonkinwise (20:10):

Sure. So the core subjects really set you up for being an articulate facilitating designer. The service design major really digs quite deep into what mature service design practice involves. The service design foundations really looks at a lot of the history and politics of service. When you’re designing services, you’re designing people, and you really need to think carefully about how to do that. In some ways it’s got much higher consequences than being a designer of a product, and you’re actually intervening in power relations between people. So we look at that. That second one is an advanced research subject in which you’re looking at the very particular research methods associated with being a service designer. These are often qualitative. You need to be a very good interviewer. You need to be definitely somebody who uses unstructured interviewing rather than relies on surveys, precisely because you’re trying to discover what people feel comfortable doing when they interact with other people.

That third subject focuses on ways of communicating service design. I mentioned before that a lot of service designs are communicated primarily through the blueprint. We think that there’s lots of limitations and constraints associated with that. So we bring a lot of different types of storytelling and world building and character forming and scenario creation so that you have the capacities to really strongly argue to service innovations in the different context that you might be working. And then we have a studio in which you put those three things together, the kind of politics, the research and the communication strategies to create something that will be a portfolio product that demonstrates that you’ve worked with industry partners and led transformational design, as [inaudible 00:21:52] calls it, you’ve actually led to a service design that resulted in the transformation of the kind of culture and values of the place that you were working with.

And then in the leadership, as Abby mentioned, I have the great fortune of being in Carnegie Mellon, and worked with Terry Owen and Gideon Kossof there to help develop transition design. So the design leadership really focuses on this new forefront of design, the ways in which designers engage in systems level shifting. Systems shifting is a very beautiful report that just was produced by the UK Design Council. I would highly recommend you go and find it. Cassie Robinson did a series of interviews and put it together. It’s a really beautiful report. It just came out about a week ago. And it discusses the ways in which designers are now acting as change agents, not just within organizations and communities, but in terms of societal systems as a whole. So this transition design major really focuses on how you can be a leader in organizations and communities, but also whole sectors in order to begin to create cultures and facilitate work that’s actually going to move us to more sustainable societies, more equitable and more diverse societies in the future, or what Arturo Escobar has recently called designs for the pluriverse.

Abby Mellick Lopes (23:11):

Great. Thanks Cameron. So yes, and then just to remind you that you have got this option to do both of those majors or indeed link into some of the other faculty that you’re particularly interested in. And you can get in contact with us and we can really think through how we can tailor something that you really need to advance your career. I just wanted to include a testimonial. Sorry about all the text on screen. As I said, our videos aren’t quite ready, but this was from one of our graduates of the Graduate Certificate in Social and Service Design, Lauren Cass, who following the completion of her grad certificate did an internship with one of our own industry partners, and has just gained a role as a human-centered designer at QBE Insurance. She said, “What made me choose UTS was actually the work that the Design Innovation Research Center had been doing for all of those years, particularly with the Department of Communities and Justice.” She’s done quite a lot of study.

She’s done a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree before that, and this was, she said, by far the most engaged she’d ever been in a course. She found it challenging, but it stretched her, and she got a huge amount out of it. She has really shifted her career into service design. And just to signal, as we mentioned, this is an emerging discipline. The report that Cameron has just mentioned suggests that we’re on the brink of this really exploding in terms of jobs and capacities. These are just some of those careers: service designer, social designer, human-centered designer, strategic designer, design researcher. Design led research is becoming really significant. Diversity specialists across all those sectors I mentioned earlier, in workplaces. Facilitators, design lead, product owner, change manager and transition designer. And I don’t know, Cameron, if you wanted to mention anything there, we’ve talked a bit about the international lack of education in some of these fields that we’re attempting to fill.

Cameron Tonkinwise (25:29):

Yeah, I’d just say, as Abby indicated, I had the privilege of being at Carnegie Mellon for a while, which is one of the leading interaction design centers, and also one of the founders of the discipline of service design, Shelley Evenson, was there for a while and co-founded the international service design network with Birgit Mager. I was surprised when I came back that it really felt like a lot of design schools in Australia had missed the arrival of both interaction design, though that was being picked up by engineering schools and computer science, but design schools had really missed service design. And it’s very evident if you look at the industry, the lead service designers within government agents and within a lot of FinTech companies, they all tend to come from overseas. A lot of Scandinavian trained, a few British and a couple of people coming from out of experience design in the U.S.

So there definitely is an urgent need for both leaders and team leaders who have a depth of education in relation to service design. So that’s really why we’re stepping into this. It’s a bit of catch up. We have an industry advisory board who are pleading with us as quickly as possible to create graduates who want to create internship pipelines to make sure that they almost have first access to a lot of the graduates of this program. So yeah, I don’t want to get everyone’s hopes up too much, but there’s a pretty desperate situation out there, if I can say just from my experience.

Abby Mellick Lopes (26:55):

Yeah, that’s certainly what we are hearing in our conversations. We’re running low on time and it’d be good to know if you’ve got any questions. I can go through these entry requirements. You need to have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a non design field with a minimum grade point average, or you can come in through the Graduate Certificate in Design or Graduate Certificate in Social and Service Design. Those are the design background. We’d like to see a portfolio. A really key thing to remember there is we want to see evidence of some kind of social research that you’ve done in your design projects. So not the artifact, not merely the artifact, but how you got to that artifact, how you developed intelligence about the social context that you were designing for. That’s really important to us when we’re assessing your portfolios. We need a statement articulating your reasons for wanting to undertake our course. And a CV. And there are other various proficiencies that you need to meet. We don’t have much time, so it would be great to see if there’s any questions for Cameron or I.

Cameron Tonkinwise (27:57):

Maybe there’s one there about remote possibilities for the degree program, and somebody even asking remote domestically.

Abby Mellick Lopes (28:10):

Yes. Look, that’s fine. We have people that don’t necessarily live in Sydney or it’s difficult to get into campus. We do have a blended course, so we have mostly online with some kind of events in on campus, but those on campus face to face events are always blended. So we have people zooming in as well as people in the room, and we’ve made that work really well, if you think about some of the Miro shots I showed you. Our teachers are expert facilitators in engaging people both online and in the room. So that’s certainly possible and even desirable in some cases. Is there any other questions about the content? I know we’ve got some alumni in the audience. If we haven’t really touched on something that you’d like to talk about but perhaps not ask a question now, I’ve been talking to a lot of people, so just get in touch with me and we can have a Zoom chat and I can try and get your questions answered. Hear a bit about your background and talk with a bit more detail about how our program can meet your needs.

Yeah, please do book in a video chat and we can unpack some of the detail that we’ve gone through in this presentation. Well, I guess we’re on time. If there aren’t any further questions, we might go off and have dinner on our side of the world. Thanks to you all for coming. And it would be great to meet you.

Cameron Tonkinwise (30:14):

Thanks everyone.

Abby Mellick Lopes (30:14):

See you later.