Design Thinking as a Paradigm to Support the Ethical Revival in Higher Education

Design Thinking as a Paradigm to Support the Ethical Revival in Higher Education

Geraldine Torrisi-Steele (Griffith University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4141-8.ch009
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The recent surge of unethical behaviour throughout all levels of higher education institutions across the world leaves little doubt of the problematic nature of ethics in higher education. The current state of ethics in universities must be seen as a call to action and must be considered a catalyst for an ethical revival in higher education leadership and administration. In the present chapter, against the background understanding of design thinking, ethics, and leadership in higher education, an argument is made for the usefulness of design thinking in moving towards the much-needed ethical revival of higher education. The fundamental premise of the present chapter is that design thinking with its emphasis on empathy is a useful paradigm for supporting the growth of an ethical mindset throughout the higher education.
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What Is Design Thinking?

To understand design thinking and its relevance to ethical decision making, it is important to first clarify the concept of design and design thinking as it is used in the present chapter. The following conceptualisation of design and design thinking is argued in a previous publication (Torrisi-Steele, in press) by the author and is paraphrased here:

Frequently, in common use, the term design is used to refer to visual appearance, aesthetics and or function of an object or to mean “to conceive and plan out in mind” or “to devise for a specific function or plan” ( Design thinking is most closely related to the latter understanding of design. Design thinking is a human centred approach to problem solving. The process of design thinking connects inspiration, ideation and implementation (Brown & Katz,2009). “Empathy, creativity and rationality to analyse and fit solutions to particular contexts” (Wrigley & Straker, 2015) is at the core of design thinking. There are variations in conceptualization of design thinking. For the purposes of the present chapter, design thinking is a process for as reflexive practice, problem solving activity - a way of reasoning/making sense of things, and creation of meaning (Gasparini, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Leadership: Leadership may be defined as “the art of persuading a follower to want to do things, activities, that the leader sets as goals” ( Mihelic, Lipicnik, & Tekavcic, 2010 , p. 32).

Morals: Guiding principles for what is right or wrong.

Ethics: According to Lillie (2001) ethics is “the normative science of conduct, and conduct is a collective name for voluntary actions” (p. 3). The code of values and moral principles that guides individual or group behaviour with respect to what is right or wrong ( Mihelic, Lipicnik, & Tekavcic, 2010 ).

Empathy: Seeing the world from the perspective of another person and understanding or experiencing the emotions they have in response to the world as they see it.

Design Thinking: Both a methodology and mindset for creative and innovative problem solving. As defined by Stanford school, it is problem solving approach centred around empathy as the mechanism for gaining deep understanding of the users and their context.

Values: Are personal and social beliefs about what is good and the relative importance of those beliefs. Values motivate action on the basis of belief about what is more important.

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