Design Thinking in Finland: Prof. Jenny Bergström on her research stay at the University of Lapland

Not only students, but also lecturers can gain exciting experience at host universities as part of an Erasmus+ teaching mobility. Prof. Jenny Bergström from the Department of Design was recently a guest at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi and gave a Design Thinking workshop there.

Ms. Bergström, you were in Finland as part of a staff mobility program. At which university were you, during which period and what did you do there?

End of March, I spent a week at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi (Finland), conducting a five-day workshop with students and holding a lecture on Design Thinking and creative processes. The lecture was part of the university’s program during Arctic Design Week, a yearly design festival taking place in Rovaniemi. In the experimental Design Thinking workshop, the participants were introduced to renewable gluten plastic, a new sustainable material that has the potential to replace oil-based plastics. The students were given the task to investigate the material’s properties, stretch its boundaries and develop new, innovative and experimental packaging concepts for the local chocolate manufacturer Choko Deli.


What did you find particularly impressive during your academic stay abroad?

During my stay, I got the chance to meet students, researchers and other professors and exchange thoughts on and experience of design education and design research. It’s always inspiring to hear how design is thought about at other universities and how teaching staff work to build a creative culture where students feel confident to explore and experiment. I also connected with several people who were curious about Berlin and how we work at HMKW and I’m sure interesting future collaborations and exchanges will come out of that.

Which experience will you remember most and to what extent will your teaching at HMKW benefit from it?

I had the opportunity to engage in conversations with professors and students about creative processes and the different ways to plan and document artistic research and design work which I will take with me and integrate into my teaching at HMKW. I also witnessed an open dialogue and close relationship between students and teachers, allowing students to feel confident to ask questions and reach out when they need help. I see this every day at HMKW, but having the outside perspective reminded me of how important that is to maintain a creative and healthy study culture.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us.