In 1968, Herb Simon published a still influential book called, The Sciences of the Artificial. He wrote,
"Everyone designs who devise courses of actions at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient or the one who devises a new sales plan for a company or a social welfare policy for a state."
One can therefore think of design as a process of understanding how things in the material world (the artificial according to Simon) might be made to attain goals and functions that are useful for people. Design research applies knowledge to solve practical problems that serve human purposes (as opposed to the natural and social sciences that are meant to understand reality). Design thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems and find solutions to problems for people and/or clients. The skills involved in design thinking include empathy (looking at and reading a scene, hearing the voice and understanding the needs of clients; bringing out the best in collaborators; mentoring yourself and others; compassionate leadership), imagination (being able to see patterns in chaos, thriving when faced with constraints), systematic thinking (a feel for abstraction, modeling, planning, evaluating, and recognizing systematic error in judgments and decisions).
This module would therefore builds skills through an introduction to current thinking and practice in design to improve safety, experience and effectiveness in health and social care settings, and by bringing in practitioners with real problems that need to be addressed. Our students would work in small teams with practitioners to construct solutions and to evaluate their fitness. We might imagine that in the first part of the module, we would provide students with an understanding of what design is all about, but then quickly put them in an environment where they learn, experience, and apply design thinking to real problems.