University of Bath School of Management University of Bath School of Management

Addressing societal challenges through co-design as opportunity to build links with The Ohio State University

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From 23 - 27 June, Dr Liz Sanders, Associate Professor in the Department of Design of The Ohio State University and the founder of MakeTools, was hosted by Dr Svenja Tams from the School of Management.

Dr Sanders’ visit provided the opportunity to pilot co-design methodologies as part of a research project on ‘Engaging Customers and Communities in Sustainable Water Use’, undertaken by the School of Management’s Karin Silver and Svenja Tams (project lead) in collaboration with Wessex Water, and co-funded by the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account.

Design methodologies are increasingly being proposed to facilitate people’s collective creativity when developing solutions to wicked societal problems – such as climate change, global recession, chronic disease, sustainability and poverty.
In the current project, the research team employs co-design tools and methods to inform the development of behaviour change interventions that engage people and communities in more sustainable wastewater use. Specifically, the project seeks to address the growing use of so-called ‘flushable’ wipes and wet wipes, which are advertised for their convenience, but cause unpleasant sewer blockages.

During a public seminar and workshop on Friday 27 June, Dr Sanders shared her experience and research into co-design practices. She outlined the benefits of designing with people to make sense of and give shape to future situations of use, drawing on illustrations from two co-design workshops with citizens of a Wiltshire city, earlier in the week. The workshop provided about 20 participants from across the University and external organisations an opportunity to gain some hands-on experience in the use of these tools.

Dr Tams said: “Over the past few years, we have examined a variety of methods for facilitating collaborative innovation on sustainability and social issues. In this context, design tools and practices have clearly stood out for their pragmatic and resourceful approach. Our collaboration with Dr Sanders has helped us to advance this research agenda and put these methods and tools into practice within the context of our knowledge exchange partnership with Wessex Water.”

The research and event was funded by an award from the University’s International Mobility Grant Scheme, received by Dr Svenja Tams (PI), Professor Mike Beverland, Dr Steve Conway, and Dr Judith de Groot from the School of Management; and Professor Danae Stanton Fraser (Psychology) and Professor Stephen Gough (Education). The Grant Scheme seeks to enable the development of research collaboration between the University of Bath and The Ohio State University.

As part of her visit, Dr Sanders also had the opportunity to meet Professor Julia Balogun, the School’s Associate Dean for Research, and Dr Pete Nuttall, the School’s Director of Internationalisation.

Notes to Editors

Dr Liz Sanders is a pioneer in the use of social science research methods in the design of consumer, office and medical products, spaces, systems, and interfaces, having worked as a design research consultant in industry since 1981.

Some of her clients have included Apple, AT&T, Coca Cola, Compaq, GE, IBM, Intel, Kodak, Microsoft, Motorola, Procter & Gamble, Roche Diagnostics, Steelcase, Thermos, 3M, and Xerox.

Having introduced many of the tools, techniques and methods being used today to drive and/or inspire design from a human-centred perspective, she speaks and conducts workshops about participatory design research, generative design thinking, collective creativity and transdisciplinarity all over the world. With Pieter Jan Stappers, she has published Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design (2012), Amsterdam, BIS.

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General Notes For Editors:

The School of Management is one of the UK's leading business schools. Currently ranked 1st for Student Experience (Times Higher Education 2015) and 1st for Business Studies (The Times & Sunday Times University Guide 2016), we are a leading centre for management research - placed 8th in the UK in the latest REF2014.

We are one of a select number of international business schools accredited by EQUIS, the European Foundation for Management Development's quality inspectorate and the Bath MBA has been accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) since 1976.

The centrality of research to teaching is an essential feature of all our programmes. The School offers a full range of programmes from undergraduate to postgraduate up to PhD level and post-experience programmes including the world-ranked Bath MBA. The School also provides tailored executive development programmes for middle and senior management.

The School of Management has a faculty of over 100 teaching and research staff, including visiting academics, with a professional support team of around 90 managerial and administrative staff. Research income averages £2 million per annum. There are approximately 2,400 students in total comprising some 150 MBA students, over 500 Master’s students, 250 full- and part-time research students, and over 1500 undergraduates following BSc degrees.