Inter-Organizational Design Thinking in Education: Joint Work between Learning Sciences Courses and a Zoo Education Program

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1 Scopus citations


A case study of design thinking in education considers how two educational organizations - a university graduate program and a public zoo - develop and enact design thinking processes in relation to one another. It also examines how this inter-organizational design thinking project contributes to a "center without walls,"or collaboratory (Wulf, 1993), pursuing an aspirational vision: to support interest-driven learning while also connecting youth to a wider landscape of formal and informal learning opportunities among educational organizations in a major US metropolitan area. As an initial step in pursuit of this vision, the work of the collaboratory concentrated on one of the zoo's community-focused education programs called Overnight Adventure. Over seventeen weeks, the project involved the collaborative efforts of two faculty and twelve students from a college of education, and three full-time staff and nineteen part-time instructors from a zoo education program across ten inter-organizational events and observations of five Overnight Adventures. To characterizer inter-organizational design, the case employs contiguity-based connecting strategies to analyze design thinking across four timescales. Findings describe the structures and processes of inter-organizational design thinking and the role of cultivating relational agency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalOpen Education Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • collaboratory
  • design thinking
  • infrastructuring
  • learning sciences
  • relational agency
  • zoo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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