Innovation is a tough thing to measure. To compile this list of the world's most forward-thinking design schools, BusinessWeek turned to an international panel of 22 expert design and brand consultants and academics from business and design schools. We also tapped executives at six forward-thinking companies with expertise in design or innovation strategy: IBM (IBM), Citigroup (C), Sears (SHLD), the Rockwell Group, Procter & Gamble (PG) and Electrolux. We asked them to recommend interdisciplinary design and business programs whose curricula they respect and whose graduates they hire. Jurors from academia were asked to look beyond their own instititutions—any self-nominations were discounted.
Then we conducted interviews with professors, students, and alumni from the recommended colleges, looking for design programs that incorporate business strategy and business programs that teach design as a tool for strategic advantage. We were looking for programs where interdisciplinary classes were the core curriculum, not fringe electives. Their input helped us refine the list to 60 schools, which are located all over the world.
Making the cut: programs that use the real world as their classroom, where students solve contemporary business programs for real clients, instead of tackling hypothetical scenarios in an academic setting; programs that were tuned in to contemporary business issues, such as the need to be global and environmental and socially sustainable; and those whose graduates have proved themselves capable of bringing creative talent to the corporate world, not only as designers but as strategists and leaders.
Comparing and contrasting schools and programs is an imperfect science, but this year's list provides a useful snapshot of the growing influence of design thinking within the world at large.
Ric Grefé, executive director, American Institute for Graphic Arts
Mark Breitenberg, dean of undergraduate education, Art Center
Barry Jaruzelsk, vice-president and lead marketing officer, Booz Allen
Jeff Semenchuk, executive vice-president, Consumer Group Innovation, Citigroup
Gianfranco Zaccai, president and CEO, Continuum
Domus Academy, group response
John Thackara, director, Doors of Perception
Henrik Otto, global head of design, Electrolux
Gabriel Patrocínio, director, ESDI
Yves Behar, president and creative director, Fuseproject
Lorraine Justice, director, School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
IBM, group response
IDEO, group response
Katherine Bennett, former Vice President, IDSA
Patrick Whitney, director of Institute of Design, llinois Institute of Technology
Manuel Sosa, assistant professor of technology, INSEAD
Jez Frampton, global CEO, Interbrand
Alonzo Canada, relationship lead, Jump Associates
Walter Herbst, director of product design program, Northwestern University
Jeneanne Rae, president, Peer Insight
Martha Depenbrock, Global Design Communications Group, Procter & Gamble
RitaSue Siegel, president, RitaSue Siegel Resources
Rockwell Group, group response
Jeremy Myerson, professor of design studies, Royal College of Art
Dev Mukherjee, senior vice-president for innovation, Sears
Smart Design, group response
Krisztina Holly, vice-provost for innovation, and executive director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, University of Southern California
Sohrab Vossoughi, president, ZIBA