Last Friday, UVA’s Darden School of Business together with UVA’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation unveiled a special program that supports and encourages the teaching and studying of Darden’s new curriculum initiative, “design-thinking.”
This new program, reports an article in UVA Today, will take place in the innovation laboratory, or i.Lab, a creative space that will be part classroom and part studio, set up to provide an area for students to “build models and prototypes of their ideas…[that] features tall workbenches flanked by a full complement of tools,” including hammers, saws, carving tools, oscilloscopes, metal rods, foam boards, clay, wood, and others. The space has tall, floor-to-ceiling windows, an exhibition space, and implements state-of-the-art facilities.
The philosophy behind Darden’s focus on design-thinking and on the new i.Lab, explains Jeanne Liedtka, a professor in the program, is that “design-thinking skills are best developed through the hands-on design experience.”
Students learn, create, and then exhibit their business prototypes, subjecting their work to peer review and critique.
According to a BusinessWeek article on the same subject, Darden is not the only school putting a strong emphasis on design and innovation. NYU Stern has had the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab since the fall of 2008, and UC Davis Graduate School of Management currently has plans to open something similar as well.
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