Design as Human Interface: Skills in the digital age and for the creative economy

University for the Creative Arts logoNorwich University of the Arts logoThis AHRC funded skills development project builds on the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) and Norwich University College of Arts’ (NUCA) AHRC Block Grant Partnership to develop and deliver a programme of research training for the academic year 2012-13. The project focuses on the theme ‘Design as Human Interface’ through a series of research workshops and an award programme.

The project responds to capacity and skills gaps in design led research, particularly with regard to data, primary research resources, methodological and ethical issues, cross-disciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurship, and interaction with businesses and industry and the cultural sector, as well as leadership capabilities for the creative economy.

The main objectives of the skills development project are to:

1. Enhance PGRs and ECRs knowledge of research design and project management

2. Foster awareness and understanding of ethical and methodological skills

3. Develop a significant community of practice and engender peer learning

4. Generate close collaboration with representatives from creative businesses and industries and the cultural sector for the effective delivery of generic and transferable leadership skills

5. Develop sustainable opportunities for direct engagement between HEIs and businesses

6. Enable PGRs and ECRs to use their creative skills more effectively outside academia

7. Share effectively across the sector insights and best practice from the skills development programme through generating a sustained online project website including blog and documentation of workshops and a resource handbook (print and online)

The skills development workshops and award programme will be made available to taught and research postgraduate students and early career researchers based at UCA, NUCA and CREST institutions.

Research Workshops

Six one-day workshops will be held in venues in central London in monthly intervals from October 2012. Focusing on design-led research skills, knowledge and understanding with cross-disciplinary applicability the events will incorporate creative economy leadership training for postgraduate students, Doctoral students and early-career researchers at UCA, NUCA and CREST institutions.

Each one-day workshop will be based on a 6 hour event starting mid morning and finishing early evening combining presentations, practical workshops and plenary sessions. Workshops will feature presentations from/facilitations by a combination of invited guest speakers, UCA/NUCA academic staff and research students.

The skills development partnership builds on existing relationships withBritish Design Innovation and the Design Research Society. The six workshops will be provided in collaboration with experts from creative businesses and industry organisations alongside individual practitioners.

Visit the CREST Events listing for further information about each of the one day workshops.

Award Programme

A special strand within the established UCA Creative Challenge and NUCA Brainchild award programmes will also be established for UCA, NUCA and CREST postgraduate (taught and research) students and early-career researchers. Through business and industry mentoring this will complement the research workshops and offer opportunities for exploring and testing entrepreneurial skills and knowledge through real world applications and impact.

The award programme will emphasise the triple bottom line (profit, people, planet) and encourage critical engagement with social, environmental and economic benefit. By linking individual design-led business/enterprise ideas to academic study and early career training the project aims to encourage critical reflection at PGT, PGR and ECR levels.

UCA, NUCA and CREST postgraduate (taught and research) students and early-career researchers will be invited to submit proposals to the award programme addressing the overall theme of the project Design as Human Interface. The initiative will be promoted at the CREST Symposium and a call for proposals will be circulated early in the 2012-13 academic year.

Workshops 5 & 6 (above) will be joined up with the development of the special strand of the Creative Challenge/Brainchild initiative to provide participants with training in entrepreneurship, leadership and research communication. An additional ‘positioning practice’ workshop will be held in London in April/May 2013 to support students in pitching their ideas for the award programme. The students/early career researchers with the best pitches will be invited to present their projects at the CREST Symposium in September 2013.

Planning and Development

Each of the workshops will have capacity for up to 60 postgraduate taught and research students/early career researchers based at UCA, NUCA and CREST institutions. The Creative Challenge/Brainchild award programme will feature opportunities for up to 50 UCA/NUCA/CREST participants. A limited number of travel bursaries will be made available through the AHRC award to support individual postgraduate student participation in the workshops. Following the workshops and award programme the project will conclude in summer 2013 with the publication of a resource handbook and website.

For further information please contact:

Tom Simmons, Research Coordinator, NUCA

Prof Kerstin Mey, Director of Research and Enterprise, UCA