Co-designing cultures of care in doctoral education

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in Collaborative and Industrial Design
While the need to revolutionize doctoral education and improve the experience of those involved has long been recognized and vigorously discussed across academic disciplines, there is minimal contribution from the field of design. Previous work has focused primarily on the experience of doctoral students and what elements are hindering or helping them succeed in completing their studies to their satisfaction. Little attention is paid to the experience of the supporting staff, namely supervisors and advisors, and the state of the research group as a unit. This thesis seeks to address the identified research gap using design methods to conduct a case study on a highly successful research group to make doctoral education needs visible and grassroots level best practices replicable for university administrators. It provides concrete, accessible actions to improve the experience of all stakeholders involved in doctoral education.  The Majakka Project (2017-2021) is a pilot project of the Water Development Research Group in the School of Engineering at Aalto University. The Majakka Project was initiated by the leaders of the Water Development Research Group in 2017 with support from The Land and Water Technology Foundation to develop a model for collaborative doctoral education. The project recruited support staff and six doctoral students who contributed to the continuous development of the project alongside their research endeavours. At the time of this research project, the Majakka students were entering their fourth year of doctoral studies and preparing their dissertations for defence.  Building on the work of Joan Tronto (1993) and Hakio et al. (2019), Ethics of Care is used as a framework for developing co-creation activities that are sensitive to diverse needs and situations. Findings crystallized from background research and a series of co-creation workshops were used to identify best practices and define guidelines for replication in other research groups, such as creating whole-group tasks as a means of deconstructing silos to support collaborative work. This thesis proposes utilizing co-creation methods to cultivate environments conducive to success for all members of the community.  The proposed activities contribute to improving doctoral education by expanding the conversation to include all members to the research group and thus improving work wellbeing of everyone. They are expandable to all higher education environments and disciplines, not just water engineering. This thesis adds value 1) to the design field by bringing design into the doctoral education discussion and 2) to doctoral program development by providing a practice-led approach. It also encourages further research into the possibilities for design within innovation in higher education.
Keinonen, Turkka
Thesis advisor
Taka, Maija
doctoral education, co-design, care, service design, supervision, affinity diagramming, journey mapping, cultural change
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