January 2011

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MA Creative Design: Entrepreneurship

Beginning this September, The UWI St Augustine Campus will welcome its first cohort of students in its new Postgraduate programme – MA Creative Design: Entrepreneurship. Programme Coordinator, Mr. Steve Ouditt, chats with Serah Acham about the programme and how it can help change the world.

About the Programme

Tell us about the programme.
It’s a one and a half year long programme, so three semesters. We’re starting in September 2011 and our deadline for applications is the end of February.

There are going to be courses in the nature of creativity, in design strategy, strategic thinking, and in all of that, people are going to explore what it means to come up with innovative ideas and what it means to be entrepreneurial or what are the various meanings of it, and how it has been discussed or described historically, and why that’s important.

We are trying not to focus on designing objects and things as we know it in most Industrial Design programmes. We’re thinking more about having a set of creative people in a space, to design systems, solutions, and take on big, tricky, slippery issues – social, cultural, political issues. So the programme leans towards social innovation and social entrepreneurship rather than designing objects, spaces, things.

We are hoping to get lecturers who work in the industry … either in advertising, in strategy, or in creative and cultural policy, or who work as entrepreneurs who have developed businesses.

What are my chances of being accepted?
Applicants can have a first degree, ideally in an area of interest which would be a creative area. Now, one can be a creative mathematician, or a creative dentist or a creative … plumber. But you have to submit a preliminary design proposal which is, what would you like to develop? What are some things that you have been thinking about for a long time and would like to see happen?

Let’s say you think about a communications strategy that would work very successfully for rapid poverty eradication or … for education on chronic diseases. That could be a really good idea if somebody can develop the strategy. And if somebody can write in the proposal that this is a multimedia plan and, “I’m going to do print and I’m going to do events and I’m going to do a film,” … one could say “gosh, I could admit somebody like that into the programme.” We’re accepting 25 applicants. If we get more than 25, we’ll short list the best 25, based on their proposals, as well as on their qualifications to matriculate.

What are some of the courses?
There is one called the Nature of Creativity. Of course that sounds very simple, because in general, everybody has an idea of what creativity is, but in an academic context you have to explore it a lot more. Where did this discussion of creativity start? Did it start in one place or a million places? What were the times? How was it manifested in the arts, in music, in literature, in medicine … in business? You come right around again, I think, to what are big buzz words right now in our business culture … entrepreneurship and innovation.

If you look at another course like Design as a Strategic Business Tool, you’d have to look at the design industries: how people train themselves, what they look at for great opportunities to develop good, key creative strategies to advance their product or service. So a course like that will look at a lot of case studies.

One other really interesting course is called the Creative Project, and that’s when you are going to develop your … creative project. You’re being taught all these things on creative strategy, marketing, business, design, and creativity. Now you’re going to have to develop a project … and that’s the area that I think can be really exciting.

In the June 2009 issue of UWI Today, this MA programme was profiled and it was mentioned that it was a collaboration between The UWI and De Montfort University. Can you tell us a bit about that partnership?
This programme is being run in collaboration with De Montfort University in Leicester in the UK. Principal Sankat met with De Montfort years ago and they had very fruitful discussions about what a design programme should be and Principal Sankat put an internal team together to work with De Montfort to develop the programme.

The essence of the collaboration really, is in the courses … we are actually buying the intellectual property for the six courses. The staff will be selected from academics at The UWI or other practitioners in relevant industries, but we are going to use the De Montfort courses and their course outlines.

What specific skills can students expect to walk away with?
Many. But I think the key thing is that they would be in a better position to spot opportunities to develop innovative, creative solutions for things that we need, things that will make human life a lot more sustainable. I don’t necessarily want to say a lot more comfortable because one can make life comfortable and bypass all the effects that could be dreadful. Cars make life comfortable, but what are the effects of that? So it’s not just about comfort, but to look at opportunity, to commit themselves to developing solutions, ideas, experiences that would help our planet to be a lot more sustainable.

About Steve Ouditt’s role
I will be the coordinator of the programme and also teach in the programme. The role of the coordinator, I suppose, is to keep the programme going, keep it well oiled and take care of all the day-to-day matters – staff, student, curriculum and resource matters.

What’s your vision for this programme?
I want it to attract a lot of very interesting, very creative candidates, who are committed to developing brilliant ideas that would come to terms with some of the key social, political, cultural issues that we have and design systems, experiences, events, even spaces and objects, to deal with these things.

I want it to attract people because of this brilliant work … In other words, if a student here wanted to study music, they’d probably think about Berkeley. If somebody wanted to study architecture, they’d probably think about Harvard School of Design, or Princeton School of Architecture. If somebody wanted to study art, they would think about Goldsmiths College, University of London. How have all these universities developed such a reputation? Because for a very long time, they’ve turned out really smart, bright, creative people who were committed to advancing the specific discipline in very interesting dimensions. I’m hoping that our programme can become something like that … very well-known because of the work it’s doing, and how highly interesting and innovative the approaches are … a programme that will attract students from anywhere in the world, who want to develop bright, creative, intelligent ideas for a better world. That’s what I want – a better world.