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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access August 12, 2019

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

  • Steven J. Zuiker EMAIL logo , Michelle Jordan and the Learning Landscapes Team
From the journal Open Education Studies


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.


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Received: 2019-03-26
Accepted: 2019-07-12
Published Online: 2019-08-12

© 2019 Steven J. Zuiker et al., published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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