This project (2020-1-SE01-KA203-077872) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Challenges for Emerging Cities: Open Lab Multidisciplinary Course, 15 credits

The course is available for all students with a bachelor degree from the four universities in the Stockholm region (Södertörn University, Stockholm University, Karolinska Institutet, and the Royal Institute of Technology
Syllabus, Curriculum, Exercise
Thematic Area
Factual description
The course is an interdisciplinary project course based on challenge driven innovation. The students learn and apply Design Thinking in order to develop solutions and innovations to a given societal challenge, on behalf of an external public sector client. The student work in multidisciplinary teams with students from different universities, disciplines and backgrounds.
The course is provided by Openlab’s four partner universities Stockholm University, Karolinska Institutet, Södertörn University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
The challenges in the course are submitted by Stockholm City and Region Stockholm and origins from the four main areas: sustainable urban development, future healthcare, education and the ageing population.
Relevance in complex systems
The course is relevant for CoSy since the challenges that are adressed in the projects are complex and include organizational complexities, as well as different stakeholders with conflicting needs, and sometimes also sustainability issues.
The couse makes use of a large number of methods and approaches, mostly within the larger approach called design thinking, which could be understood as means to take on and find solutions to complex and wicked problems.
Strong points
The design thinking approach that is used in the course has components that are interesting with respect to complex systems, such as

Is mostly about making simplifications of the complexity, "so that you can get your reptile brains around the problem" (quote from teacher)
The strongest tools are different forms of visualisations such as:
*Stakeholder maps
*Customer Journeys

And methods that takes down the complexity:
*Point of View – looking at the problem complex from a specific perspective
*Personas – summarizing complex needs from different people so that it becomes graspeable. Capturing a complex network of needs in a simple way.

The teachers stresses that the creation of these simplifications and visualisations is something you have to practice – it requires experience. You have to be able to create a model with right level of complexity. You need to create SIMPLE models so that everybody understands them. Too complex models become useless

Another strength in the course is the multidiscplinary approach with students from a broad range of disciplines. Students and teachers always stress that this diversity is key for arriving at successful results.
Transferability potential
The design thinking approach should be applicable in project courses in a broad range of subjects. Also the multidisciplinary approach and real world challenges are easily replicable.