Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

Learning Innovation Unit

Teaching and Learning Innovation Scheme 2005

Professor Richard O'Kennedy - development of a thematic, cross-disciplinary module in creativity and discovery

Principal Applicant

Professor Richard O'Kennedy

School or Unit


Additional Applicants

Dr. Richie Paul, NCSR, richie.paul@DCU.ie

Dr. Tony Killard, Biotechnology, Biotechnology, tony.killard@DCU.ie

Dr. Finian Buckley, DCUBS, finian.buckley@DCU.ie

Amount requested



In response to the call for the development of thematic modules, this application proposes to develop a module entitled 'Creativity and Discovery' under the Business and Innovation Theme. This module will explore the beginnings of innovation and will draw on expertise and experience from across the University - and beyond - to explore the nature of individual and institutional creativity and the process of discovery from idea to implementation. The module will be offered in the first instance as an option across all DCU undergraduate programmes - and hence to a mixed, interdisciplinary cohort - consistent with the desire for breadth in the current discussions on modularisation.

The programme will examine the nature of organisational and scientific innovation and will explore questions such as the context of creativity, the motivation for discovery, laboratory experimentation, scientific breakthrough, key trends in technologies and the application of technological platforms the solution of a variety of real-world problems.

Project URL


Will the project facilitate flexible access (in the context of lifelong learning or otherwise) or facilitation of longer-term provision for special needs


Is the project related to the development of DCU's six academic themes


Strategic Context

This proposal serves strategic imperatives both outside and inside the University. Several recent reports in Ireland (e.g. O'Driscoll) and internationally have focussed on the need to engender creativity in the corporate and educational sectors. Historically, entrepreneurship studies have carried a heavy burden in this regard: this module extends the focus of innovation to the processes of creativity and discovery which are the source of innovation.

In a university context, the Business and Innovation Theme aims to place business at the service of innovation and innovation at the centre of business. This module serves this strategy in a significant way by contributing to student learning and to the development of cross-disciplinary understanding of innovation and change. It will form the basis for development of a Science and Innovation programme currently under discussion between the Theme Leader: Business and Innovation and the Associate Deans in Business and Science and Health.

Implementation Plan

The project will be carried out by a team of faculty, drawn from across the University, primarily from the Business School and the Faculty of Science and Health. It will also involve a high degree of involvement from visiting and adjunct faculty to deliver particular aspects of the curriculum. The proposal is unique in the sense that it will also include input from the university's research centres (e.g. NCSR). If approved, faculty from schools and units other than those included here will be invited to contribute as appropriate. As a consequence, this is a cross-faculty, interdisciplinary initiative.

The project is, most appropriately given the objective and content of the module, based on discovery approaches to learning. The module will be highly interactive and students will be encouraged to explore and discover knowledge in the area through case studies, problem sets and significant elements of project work, carried out in interdisciplinary teams. Classroom and teaching materials will emphasise discovery as a process of learning as well as an outcome of the module. Hence, the role of the module team will be to

a) excite curiosity in the student to investigate the environment of creativity and discovery;

b) equip students with the conceptual tools to embark on the voyage of discovery; and

c) draw on suitable frameworks to all students to map their findings in the discovery space and trace their findings to the topography of their own discipline.

The project will be the first of its kind in an interdisciplinary, undergraduate context and will inform the development of similar thematic modules and degree minors in, for example, science and innovation. Similar projects may be found elsewhere internationally (e.g. at http://www.business.uiuc.edu/accountancy/projdisc/ and http://www.buffalostate.edu/departments.xml?deptid=CREA. (It is intended to partner with the latter - the Center for Creativity Studies at Buffalo State - in the development of the module.

The project will begin in September 2005 and will be completed in December 2005.

Impact and Evaluation

The project will improve the learning experience of students by:

a) adding breadth to their knowledge of the world;

b) exciting a high level of curiosity and desire, as a consequence, to learn and discover through creative means;

c) an interdisciplinary perspective on learning, involving cohorts and content from a variety of disciplines (for example, the module will allow students of business to learn about the process of creativity and discovery in science).

Evaluation of the module will take place by way of student assessment of teaching and through evaluation of the outcomes in the project work and other assessments delivered. Given that the module is a level 1 module - and therefore most valuable in introducing students to the world of learning - longitudinal data will be collected through the assessment of student performance and opinion in later years of their studies.

The module proposed is an opportunity for the evaluation of teaching and learning approaches by science, business and other students fostering thematic, team building and team approaches to solving key real-life problems.

Dissemination and Sustainability

The project outlined in this proposal is intended as the beginning - through a pilot process - of a set of thematic modules in the area of business and innovation. As such, it is intended that the process and outcomes of the project will be highlighted through the Business and Innovation Theme, the Innovation Newsletter (IN) and the normal reporting processes of the OVPR.

It would be the first module of its kind in an Irish university, building to a series of modules which would be an entirely unique and distinctive undergraduate offering in Innovation. As such it has the potential to add to DCU's attractiveness as a university of choice and, hence, attract additional funding through the normal budgetary channels and through outside (corporate) delivery.

A key element of the learning approach will be the use of Moodle. This will allow for wider dissemination to p/g levels where the module will be developed for Masters/Ph.D programmes in line with SFI and HRB strategies in that regard.

Detailed Budget

Training the trainers 3,000 (Center for Creativity at Buffalo State and DCU's CRMLD)

Programme materials 4,100 (including employing a graduate student to integrate teaching materials with Moodle)

Programme delivery 3,800


Additional, in-kind administrative support will be forthcoming from the Office of the Theme Leader: Business and Innovation.

Given the interdisciplinary, cross-faculty nature of the project (making funding from any one school difficult), funding from a fund such as the Teaching and Learning Fund is entirely appropriate and necessary to allow the participation of a wide range of expertise and experience.

Given the scope of this project to create a modus operandi and inter-faculty team which can then build further modules in the area of Innovation, the financial contribution envisaged has the potential to transform the student experience and DCU's profile in teaching and learning in the Business and Innovation theme.

Support from Head of School/Unit

This proposal is supported by Dr. Brid Quilty, Head of the School of Biotechnology, and also by Dr. Ciaran Ó hÓgartaigh, Theme Leader - Business and Innovation.

The project proposed is recognised by both as having considerable scope to add to DCU's identity as an innovative place of learning. It also extends the interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that has been the hallmark of DCU. In particular, it sings to the Business and Innovation Theme by offering a programme of learning in the area of creativity - a key (and underserved) element of innovation.

The programme also opens oportunities to partner with leading international institutions in the field, including the International Center for Creativity Studies at Buffalo State and the de Bono Foundation.

The module will aos build skills which can be harnessed for continuing professional education in a corporate context.

Other Information

The cubs of the Celtic Tiger will be born through Innovation. Through its Business and Innovation theme, DCU is committed to bringing to life a research and teaching agenda which drives such change.

The module has the potential to be path-breaking in its approach, rejuvenating DCU's commitment to interdisciplinary learning. The module is intended as a foundation stone for a set of modules in Innovation which will form the basis of a minor in Innovation under the proposed modular framework currently under discussion (i.e. incorporating both the breadth and learning to learn elements of the student learning experience).