In this course, students learn how to apply co-creation in order to solve a societal problem. This forms an important element of the design thinking process, which is also tackled in this course.

Goal of the course

The students follow the design thinking methodology, focusing on discovering and framing the problem by research and empathy, followed by the very creative and iterative exploration of ideation, porototyping and testing.

The students must perform at least one design sprint in the first semester and propose a basic concept or direction of development. In the second semester, the original solution is challenged and re-iterated by zooming in and out, re-iterating, viewing from multiple perspectives stakeholders and challenges.

The result is open ended and has hopefully offered a possible solution for a very fuzzy front end challenge. Communication with stakeholders is often performed by visualisations and/or prototypes.

The students

Mandatory course for students Industrial Design Engineering Technology, and a university wide elective course for all other students. In the first semester, mandatory course for Master students Textile Engineering. All groups are preferably multi-disciplinary so that multiple expertise, knowledge and perspectives can be put forward in the project.

Input at the start

The external organisation deliver a briefing document as input to the lectures. Multiple challenges with a societal (sustainable) impact will be put on a short list by the lecturers of the course (not by students) based on the merits of multidisciplinary, open questions, feasibility and multi-perspectivism.

In a seconde step, the short-listed challenges are presented to the students, preferably by the organisation. Students will select their project of preference and can go into dialog with the organisation, in order to learn more about the challenge/problem definition.

End result

At the end of the course, students will present their project in a final event, that is accessible for a broad public audience. Due to Covid-19, this year the event was organised as an on-line event with PechaKucha and an on-line faire. The year before, the exhibit and final presentation took place in De Krook, Gent. Students present a poster with the followed research proces and the realised prototypes.

The final deliverables are diverse and open-ended , depending on the nature of the project, because students have the freedom to deliver what comes out of the design thinking process. All students will enquire and interact with their target group. Sometimes, this leads to a proof of concept, suggestions for future research or development, a communication strategy, proposal for new business processes, ...

Example projects

What is the future of mobility and mobility points (Mobipunt) on campuses?
How can students with neuro-motorial disabilities be offered digital step-by-step plans to learn actions in an independent and sustainable way?
What if in Belgium we all drink water from tap instead of packing and transporting it?
How can we already teach children – the consumers of tomorrow – in an interactive way that clothes, should stay clothes?
How to create circular shoes?
StuDeelt: How can we create a sustainable sharing platform at student homes?
How can we improve safety in households Using textile sensors?
How can we develop eco-tourism in the Mayibuye game reserve of South Africa?


Teaching language

Dutch, English, Combination Dutch & English


Worktime for students

2 times 12 weeks (semester 1 & 2) approx 3 hours/week per student


Year course