International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

Health futures lab : transdisciplinary development of T shaped professionals through 'wicked problem' challenges de Eyto, Adam; Ryan, Annmarie; McMahon, Muireann; Hassett, Grainne; Flynn, Morgan


It is clear that differences in approach and enquiry are apparent between the established disciplines of Design, Engineering, Business and Health Sciences. The attempt to tackle Wicked Problems (Rittel and Webber 1973) is a challenge for universities and policy makers yet we are only beginning to appreciate the potential of transdisciplinary collaboration. This paper outlines a case study in a transdisciplinary education model which addressed some of the wicked problems of health and wellbeing of urban citizens, using Limerick city, Ireland as a test bed. The Health Futures Lab [HFL] was a pilot initiative that brought recent graduates of Interactive Media, Engineering, Product Design, Architecture, Economics, Marketing and Health Sciences together to apply their professional skills in a transdisciplinary manner. The lab ran for a five week period in the summer of 2014 and was situated in the city core. Facilitation and expert mentoring was given by university faculty, and a range of community advocates. This case study examines the benefits and challenges of transdisciplinary labs as a method for addressing complex social problems and provides an example of how graduates can use their specialist knowledge whilst collaborating across disciplines for maximum effect.

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