ACIT4200 Interdisciplinary Innovation: using diversity to solve complex problems Course description

Course name in Norwegian
Interdisciplinary Innovation: using diversity to solve complex problems
Study programme
Master's Degree Programme in Applied Computer and Information Technology
Year of study
Course history


According to the United Nations, European Union and national governments, industry, civil society and academia, true innovation is only achieved through diversity. By leveraging diversity, interdisciplinary, international and inter-sectoral teams can actively work to solve the complex challenges found in society today. This course aims to train students to face the complex challenges faced by society including issues related to the ageing population, human rights, climate change, sustainable development, and the rapid growth in industrialization 4.0. The course will focus on experienced-based learning and gamification where students from multiple fields work together on a real-life local challenges with global implications. Students will work in collaboration with external partners including government agencies, civil society organizations and businesses in addition to leading researchers from across the globe who struggle every day with producing innovative solutions for their community's and the world's most complex challenge. While specific topics will vary, students will have the opportunity to choose among a variety of topics related to technology, innovation and society. Teams will be required to leverage their collective skills and experiences to effectively collaborate and produce new solutions to today's most complex challenges.

Required preliminary courses

No formal requirements over and above the admission requirements.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, the candidate:


  • Has in-depth understanding of innovative processes including participatory design, co- design and universal design
  • Has advanced understanding of the pertinent social challenges as articulated by the United Nations, European Union and national governments across the globe for example the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)



  • Can critically reflect on the role of diversity in producing innovation and the role of personal experience, disciplinary perspectives, professional background, gender, culture, and a variety of other diversity characteristics
  • Can deploy innovation processes to critically identify and analyze social, organizational or technical problems and produce solutions that meet the needs of local communities and reflect global aims and initiatives
  • Can critically reflect and reflexively analyze their own role and biases as a domain expert and identify and put into practice mechanisms for ensuring ethical, professional conduct and diversity in teams

General competence

  • Has an advanced understanding of how innovation and design frameworks and processes can be implemented in interdisciplinary teams
  • Can critically explain and debate creative processes, such as design thinking, versus analytical thinking

Teaching and learning methods

Students will be working together in groups of 5 to 7 students. Each group will select a challenge with the goal to produce an artefact as a proposed solution. The challenges will be presented at the beginning of course. The groups will apply creative thinking techniques such as design thinking in order to narrow the problem and create a potential solution.

Each group will receive a mentor, who will be available for guidance and further facilitation of the topic. Each group must assign roles based on the experience and expertise of each of the group members, and each member must make active contribution to relating to and understanding the perspectives of the other members. Empathy and reflexivity are key components of the group's interactions. Ethics and professional code-of-conduct will be a area of continued focus throughout the course.

The course will include weekly workshops, which will contain short 20-30 minute presentations followed by discussion, development, games, simulations and other forms of group collaboration.

On three occasions, each student will reflect on their own work and the groups performance by completing an electronic questionnaire.

At the end of the course, the groups will present their work and submit an artefact, which may include any combination of text, images and multimedia, content. The artefact must include reflections on the activities the group performed, a project plan, such as a GANTT chart including tasks and responsibilities, and an analysis of the deviations from the project plan.

The artefact must also include a short discussion on ethical considerations surrounding the challenge they worked on. The artefact will be submitted by the group and the student reflections will be submitted individually. The artefact may be submitted in digital or physical formats. The mentor of each challenge has to approve the structure of the artefact and format within the first week of the course.

Course requirements

The following required coursework must be approved before the student can take the exam:


  • A group presentation in the middle of the project on the projects progress.


Portfolio consisting of:

  • Three individual personal reflection documents from the electronic questionnaire. Completing each questionnaire is estimated to take about 20 minutes.
  • A final group presentation (about 25 minutes) on the end-product.
  • A project artefact, for example, a 10-15,000 word report or business plan excluding citations and appendices, or a 20-minute multimedia production, which may include animations, film and audio. Students may choose to submit a combination of a report and multimedia production including for example, an infographic, picture book, prototype or other physical or digital media in consultation with their mentor.

The portfolio will be graded as a whole. A general guideline for the weight of each part of the portfolio is:

  • Artefact (60%)
  • Final presentation (20%)
  • Personal reflections (all three) (20%)

All exams must be passed in order to pass the course.

Permitted exam materials and equipment

All aids are permitted.

Grading scale



Two internal examiners. External examiner is used periodically. The presentation cannot be appealed.