Research Professor Kate Canales On the Future of Design Education
Doreen Lorenzo interviewed Kate Canales — research professor and Director of Design and Innovation Programs at the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU in Dallas — as part of Co.Design’s Designing Women series.
Canales believes that design thinking is set to make a huge impact on higher education in two ways. First, as a tool for students’ learning, design provides the framework for promoting the skills that innovators and leaders require: empathy, collaboration, persisting through failure, and comfort with ambiguity. Second, Canales views design thinking as a disruptive force in outmoded educational models that have not yet caught up with technology. She explained to Lorenzo: “As an industry, higher ed is going to shift, either from the inside or the outside. Probably both. I believe design will play a major role in that shift.”
As higher education tries to innovate, Canales believes universities will have to bring in people from private industry, who acquired their expertise outside of the academic system, in order to bring value to educational institutions. Canales has approached the education system as a design problem by learning about who she is designing for, and then building prototypes for them to try. She began by co-teaching existing courses to get a better understanding of students, faculty, and norms, and then started designing her own courses.