This year saw a collaboration between 10 MBA students taking the elective and about 12 MA students from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. This was an informal collaboration allowing them to work together over two days in August 2016, to  try out using design thinking/methods in relation to a social challenge – food poverty in the UK. Our starting point was research by the Trussell Trust, a network of food banks (although not all of them in the UK). But in the 2 day elective, students understood site visits and did quick interviews and self study to explore challenges in donating to food banks and then come up with prototype new services/solutions in response to challenges around food donations and operations.

Over several years I’ve tried out different, often informal, arrangements to span institutional curriculums and timetables and teaching cultures. What seems to work well is something like I now do – opening up my MBA elective class (which is timetabled and assessed) to MA students from a design institution, who attend not for credit but for an opportunity to access the teaching and spend some time collaborating with MBA students. Having a practical challenge – in the style of a design challenge and the ‘flipped’ classroom – gives students a shared focus that enables meaningful collaboration and contextual idea generation as well as learning.

Food donation point at UK supermarket