(l-r) Mark Bailey, Arevik Saribekyan, Nicholas Spencer, Arman Arakelyan. Photo Credit British Council Armenia

Design Thinking Workshop: Supporting Enterprise Education in Armenia

3 min read

AGHVERAN, Armenia – The American University of Armenia (AUA) faculty participated in a two-day Design Thinking workshop initiated by Arman Arakelyan, adjunct lecturer at the AUA Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE). The event, titled “Enterprise Education Policy Dialogue,” was dedicated to exploring the development of new policies to support future enterprise education in Armenia. 

The workshop was organized by the British Council Armenia in collaboration with Creative Spark: Get Ready to Innovate Armenia, a project implemented by AUA. The workshop brought together representatives from the government and the National Assembly of Armenia, as well as renowned experts from the United Kingdom and Armenia for collaboration in tackling the challenges and realizing desirable changes in the sphere of enterprise education in Armenia.

For over a year, academics from Northumbria School of Design, Mark Bailey and Dr. Nicholas Spencer, together with Dr. Michele Rusk of Newcastle Business School, have been involved in the British Council Creative Spark program partnered with AUA’s CSE to deliver a program of innovation readiness workshops to support new startups in Armenia.

Within the realm of this activity, the Northumbria team was invited to design and deliver a multi-stakeholder workshop using their particular Design Thinking approach to enable dialogue among experts and practitioners from higher education, business, and government. 

As part of the creative new processes following the Velvet Revolution of 2018, and in order to promote dialogue across sectors and among key actors in Armenia, the Northumbria team’s method enabled the workshop participants to visualize new opportunities for developing models of enterprise education and policy development. The output from this workshop will include policy recommendations that the Northumbria team, together with AUA and British Council Armenia, will present to the Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia in mid-December.

Bailey, who is leading the Creative Spark partnership with AUA, added: “We have been able to take our particular Design Thinking inspired approach, developed over a number of years and across sectors, and deploy it within a context where there is a real appetite for change and the potential to deliver significant impact in supporting a developing economy.”

Led by Dr. Spencer, the Northumbria team are now bidding for further funding to enable them to continue to develop and extend their design-led policy work in Armenia.

During the event, research results were presented on how Design Thinking enables innovation and positive change at the intersection of entrepreneurship, education, and public good. The two-day event also considered the policy implications associated with giving the wider constituency greater voice in decisions that matter for Armenia.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. 

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

Creative Spark: Higher Education Enterprise Programme is a five-year initiative to support international university and institutional partnerships to develop enterprise skills and creative economy across seven countries in Central Asia, South Caucasus and Ukraine through UK support.