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Redesigning a Design School + Designing Higher Ed with Jason Schupbach — DT101 E30

In this episode, I speak with Jason Schupbach, who is the Director of the Design School at Arizona State University. Prior to this position, he was Director of Design and Creative Placemaking Programs for the National Endowment for the Arts, where he oversaw all the design and creative placemaking grantmaking and partnerships, including Our Town and Design Art Works grants, the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, and the NEA’s Federal agency collaborations. Previously, Jason served Governor Patrick of Massachusetts as the Creative Economy Director, tasked with growing creative and tech businesses in the state. He was formerly the Director of ArtistLink, a Ford Foundation-funded initiative to stabilize and revitalize communities through the creation of affordable space and innovative environments for creatives. He has also worked for the Mayor of Chicago and New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. He has written extensively on the role of arts and design in making better communities, and his writing has been featured as a Best Idea of the Day by the Aspen Institute.

Jason has always been interested in people who harness creative talent, and he is interested in systems which support creative artists and designers in cities. He wanted to know how he could create spaces for creatives to collaborate and have the ability to solve problems.

We explore how Arizona State University is applying design thinking, and its engagement in social justice by creating educational opportunities with Starbucks and Uber. We also talk about the challenges for design schools, and how we need to teach soft skills and power skill sets’ knowledge.

We also dig into how businesses are looking for students who can work collaboratively with soft skills as well as a working knowledge of their field. We talk about how we can use goals and objectives to build online degrees that integrate design thinking, and why this must be done collaboratively and without one person in charge of the entire process. We discuss how privilege plays a role in students’ preparedness and ability to step into a designer role, and Jason’s role in providing local schools with how design thinking can be learned and applied inside the classroom. He is passionate about us all being in the boat together, tackling world problems.

Learn More About Today’s Guest

Jason Schupbach on LinkedIn

Show Highlights

[01:38] Jason’s background and how he became a design thinking leader.
[05:55] Design Thinking applied in Arizona State University.
[06:55] Making the world a better place using research.[08:17] Jason’s pitch to ASU to become a relevant, equitable, and collaborative university.
[09:18] The poison in our society with a single leader and no collaboration.
[12:11] Why multiple skill sets are needed to solve today’s complicated problems.
[14:55] Engineering and business school at ASU incorporates design thinking.
[17:15] Assets we can use to build out and harness the power of design thinking.
[19:07] Jason asks, “How do we create and build using an architectural mindset?”
[21:41] How students are presenting what they have learned and how privilege plays a role in student preparedness to step into a designer role.
[22:02] Support systems ASU puts in place for students in need.
[27:45] The NASA space map and how students designed future spaceships which they projected into the space model.
[30:35] Changes in US policy that are affecting students’ financial ability and quality of life.
[33:45] The change is coming and why it’s higher education’s job to implement change.
[37:47] Design a good human as well as a good student.


Arizona State University
Research and Innovation at ASU
Jason’s ASU Profile
Design School at Arizona State University
Herberger Institute
Next City
Redesign School
NEA Grantee Orientation
National Endowment for the Arts: Our Town, Art Works
Mayors’ Institute on City Design
Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design
Aspen Institute 5 Best Ideas of the Day
Putting the Artist to Work for City Resilience; Creative Placemaking: 100 Resilient Cities
Curry Stone Foundation’s Social Design Insights, “Who Designs the Designers?”
The Future of Design Education

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