This year design teaching and research at the Open University is 50 years old. We are celebrating this milestone with a series of events to reflect and look forward.

You can register for upcoming events at our Eventbrite


The first event in this series was a panel discussion with Prof. Nigel Cross and Prof. Robin Roy talking to Georgy Holden on Thursday November 11th. The focus of the event was on teaching design at a distance and the impact that OU Design teaching has had. It will include clips from historic video programmes as provocations for the discussion. We used a Padlet to capture the audiences’ feedback and ideas during the panel discussion.

Made with Padlet

About the contributors

Nigel Cross is Emeritus Professor of Design Studies at the OU. He was one of the first design academics employed at the OU and played a significant role in shaping the vision for distance design teaching. He was the editor of the journal Design Studies since its inception and is well known for his book “Designerly Ways of Knowing” and his work developing the concept of design thinking.

Robin Roy is Emeritus Professor of Design and Environment at the OU. He has been at the OU since 1971 and is still active in teaching and research. He has contributed to many of the Design modules since the earliest days as well as contributing to modules on Environment and Technology and Innovation Management.

Georgy Holden is a Senior Lecturer in Design and Innovation and began her association with the Open University as a Design student in 1973. She leads to qualification in Design and Innovation and has contributed to many of the design modules.

Research March, 2022

Design research has been at the heart of the design disciplines since its onset. It has driven the content and the conceptualisation of design teaching at the OU. The need to make tacit design skills explicit to facilitate distance teaching was driven the design research agenda and the OU and far beyond.

Design research at the OU is and has always been a microcosm of design research across the world. It has brought researchers together from a range of academic fields such as social sciences and mathematics as well as different areas of design practise from architecture and urban planning to engineering. Over this time many design PhDs have graduated and several of the current staff began their research careers as OU design PhD students.

About the contributors

Stephen Potter is Emeritus Professor of Transport Strategy at the OU. His involvement with the OU started in 1974 as the first full-time PhD student in Social Sciences with a degree on economics and geography, where his interest in transport started. He worked as a researcher and later investigator on numerous projects on transport and sustainability. His work with the Design Group spans four decades.

Jeff Johnson is Professor of Complexity Science at the OU and a long-serving member of the Design Group. He is a mechanician by background and joined the centre of configurational studies at OU in 1981 as a research fellow. His research has been focussing on complex systems research in collaboration with a rich network of researcher across the world.

Claudia Eckert is Professor of Design. After studying mathematics and philosophy, she obtained a PhD in Design at the OU. She carries out empirical studies of complex design processes and works on support tools and theoretical foundations of design.

Sustainability June, 2022

6th of June provisional date for a discussion between Emma Dewberry, Stephen Peak, Alessandra Campoli and Derek Jones

July, 2022 (Annual show)

October, 2022 (looking forwards)