Don Norman advocates systems thinking in education

In a recent 3 minute video interview with the Illinois Foundry, Don Norman advocated a systems thinking approach to design engineering education. Rather than educating students in narrow, deep specialisms, Don suggests that Universities also need to educate students with a broad knowledge of social sciences. Educating systems thinkers will, he feels, ensure user needs are considered and help solve social problems.

We need people whose understanding goes beyond science and engineering to encompass history, literature, and the arts. We need people who understand both technology and people.  The emphasis on specialized knowledge is bad for society.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this video.

    Don’s comments remind me of Jon Kolko’s position on “wicked problems”:

    “A wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve … Poverty is linked with education, nutrition with poverty, the economy with nutrition… These problems can be mitigated through the process of design, which is an intellectual approach that emphasizes empathy, abductive reasoning, and rapid prototyping… Due to the system qualities of these large problems, knowledge of science, economics, statistics, technology, medicine, politics, and more are necessary for effective change”.

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