Joinedupdesign for Academies: enhancing design learning through complexity

Friedemann Schaber, John Butcher

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


This paper reports on research undertaken on the Sorrell Foundation‟s Joinedupdesign for Academies programme, a pilot scheme with four universities in the United Kingdom (UK) aiming to inform the transition of „failing‟ secondary (11-18) schools into academies (involving substantial re-designs and re-building). From the authors‟ university, 12 undergraduate Design students participated in Joinedupdesign for Academies, in partnership with two secondary schools in the Midlands region of England. Like other universities in the UK, it has well-established links with local schools and programmes of community engagement, corresponding with reported US experiences (Lerner & Simon, 1998). The Sorrell Foundation model is an example of university design departments working in multiple partnerships in order to align with government initiatives (such as the Labour policy Building Schools for the Future to rebuild or renew nearly every secondary school in England over a 20 year period). By embedding the pedagogy of live projects, there is potential to impact significantly on local regeneration. The aim of the study was to investigate Joinedupdesign for Academies as a new model of off-campus learning. In order to do this, we explored: the impact on student learning for employability; the effectiveness of undergraduate learning with pupils as clients, and the challenge of working with multiple partners in a complex environment. In terms of Design education, this provided a rare and timely exposure to the complex demands of the kind of regenerative, publicly-funded work on a large scale which will be providing opportunities for designers in the UK over the next decade.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2010
EventDesign Research Society International Conference (DRS2010): Design & Complexity - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 8 Jul 2010 → …


ConferenceDesign Research Society International Conference (DRS2010): Design & Complexity
Period8/07/10 → …


  • Design pedagogy
  • Live client collaboration
  • Multiple partnerships
  • Employability Skills
  • Community regeneration


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