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Open Education Studies

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

Steven J. Zuiker / Michelle Jordan /
Published Online: 2019-08-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/edu-2019-0001


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.

Keywords: design thinking; relational agency; collaboratory; zoo; learning sciences; infrastructuring


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About the article

Received: 2019-03-26

Accepted: 2019-07-12

Published Online: 2019-08-12

Citation Information: Open Education Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 1–23, ISSN (Online) 2544-7831, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/edu-2019-0001.

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© 2019 Steven J. Zuiker et al., published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License. BY 4.0

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