Transdisciplinary Modules helping create socially conscious citizens

Oct 24 2022 Posted: 11:38 IST

Designing Futures Transdisciplinary Modules (TDMs) are designed to help students develop knowledge from different disciplines and to nurture the multiple attributes & dispositions that the University of Galway and the Designing Futures programme are working to impart on their graduates.

These new modules aim to foster collaboration across disciplines and partnerships with external partners. Transdisciplinary modules underscore the role of knowledge and the acquirement of skills in the context of building student acumen, so students can engage as socially conscious citizens and build happy and successful lives into their future. For teachers, TDMs offer innovative and exciting opportunities to try something different! Lecturers can collaborate across the university and organize a team-teaching approach. Setting up project-based assessments is extremely rewarding, as students deliver tangible outcomes in showcasing their new knowledge and its application.

Current Transdisciplinary Modules include:

  • Introduction to Sustainability (BSS2103)
  • Design Thinking (PS3108)
  • Digital Citizenship (BSS1100)
  • Communicating through Storytelling (AJ2114) 
  • Megatrends (MG3113)

New modules for 2022/23:

  • Design Your Life (ED2103)
  • Scalable Technology-based Innovation (PH2107) 
  • Global Engagement (BSS3105) 

Module leader Yixin Qiu explains the benefits to students who study Megatrends:

''Students have the opportunity to identify a future big thing that they are interested in, and then team up based on common interests toward developing a presentation on the selected topic. It is always eye-opening to see how creative and well-thought students are when they are given leadership in their learning. It is always pleasing to see students enjoy the process of peer learning and teamwork''

Tony Hall, coordinator for Design Your Life, tells us the concept was originally developed at Stanford University:

''Design Your Life (DYL) is an innovative programme and set of tools, which we can use to figure out what our interests and talents are, and furthermore how to achieve our educational and life goals. DYL is offered in both Semester 1 & 2, (20022-23) as well as being co-curricular through student workshops; the first time the ground-breaking approach to education is being offered in an Irish university. Already, in the DYL module, we see students, working together, engaging and enjoying the process of using DYL tools to discern what their talents and interests are, both for in college and life and work afterwards.''

Scalable Technology-based Innovation module leader Ger O’Connor, explains his approach:

''Students have an opportunity to learn how to realize value from their studies. The concepts we present can be reflected in how an individual can compete and innovate towards "an impact". Students will have an opportunity to reflect on why all successful ideas are about making someone's life easier or better.''

The Digital Citizenship module allows students to embrace the challenge of thinking about the world of digital technology anew, and how we can all engage with safe, legal and ethical behaviours online. Design Thinking continues our innovative approach to teaching and learning by introducing students to empathy, observation and interviewing to help inspire the search for creative answers to challenges, through prototyping, testing and refining to validate solutions. The well-established Introduction to Sustainability module is a firm favourite with as many as 18 contributors from across academic disciplines (e.g. Archaeology, Business & Economics, Earth and Ocean Science, Engineering, Geography, History, Languages, Neuroscience), as well as University of Galway’s Sustainability Officer and the Student Volunteer Coordinator of the Community Knowledge Initiative.

Semester two will continue with Introduction to Sustainability, Megatrends, Design Your Life, Communicating through Storytelling, and the introduction of a brand new Global Engagement module. Global Engagement invites both domestic and international students to collaborate in teams to address complex societal issues. Students from diverse backgrounds jointly address complex issues related to a specific topic, such as homelessness and housing, the migrant experience, threatened cultural heritage, the impact of digital technologies. This innovative module enables disciplinary and cultural boundary crossing, delivered by lecturers across disciplines and speakers from outside the university. Communicating through Storytelling  again offers a unique opportunity for Galway students to experience progressive approaches to teaching and distinctive ways of learning. Students learn to distil and prioritize information cogently, tell effective stories, make persuasive presentations and influence decisions.

Watch this space for exciting new transdisciplinary modules currently under construction for the 2023-24 academic year - coming in September 2023!

Find out more about Designing Futures Transdisciplinary Modules



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