CE  Vol.4 No.7 B , July 2013
Higher Education for Complex Real-World Problems and Innovation: A Tribute to Heufler’s Industrial Design Approach
ABSTRACT
This article appraises an internationally top ranked higher education program in industrial design, whose stated mission is to enhance students’ ability to deal with complex real-world problems and thereby develop (sustainable) innovation. At the outset, we discuss in general terms—in our view—the indispensable essentials of a higher education program that specifically aims to equip students with the competences needed to successfully deal with such complex real-world problems. In the second part, we specifically examine Heufler’s SchoolofIndustrial DesigninGraz(Austria), its development and characteristics. A summary of general implications for higher education and lessons learnt from this top industrial design program concludes the article. Our analysis suggests that the school’s success is based on a few key cornerstones: 1) The program has a clear mission, which has been communicated early on, internally and externally; 2) Strong leadership, which enables continuity and high-quality output (e.g., attracts high-quality input reflected in the profile of applicants to the program); 3) Real-world projects with co-leadership from industry; 4) Provision of a supportive learning environment which extends beyond lecture times and which is conducive for collaborative creativity; and 5) Faculty are professional experts who focus on problemand project based learning approaches which aim at the joint development of personal, professional domain, systemic, creativity, and sociocultural (collaborative) competence of the students. The authors of this article have been involved with Heufler’sSchoolofIndustrial Designsince its establishment in 1995; they speak on behalf of Gerhard Heufler, the founder and head of this program, who unexpectedly passed away in April 2013. His remarkable leadership has enabled an extraordinary program in higher education with the explicit aim to provide students with competences needed to successfully deal with complex real-world problems.

Cite this paper
Steiner, G. & Scherr, J. (2013). Higher Education for Complex Real-World Problems and Innovation: A Tribute to Heufler’s Industrial Design Approach. Creative Education, 4, 130-136. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.47A2016.
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