Design Management alumna awarded top research prize

A Design Management alumna has been awarded the Group for Learning in Art and Design (GLAD) Postgraduate Student Learning and Teaching Research Prize.

Isabelle Uner, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Product and Furniture Design in 2020 before returning to complete an MA in Design Management, won the top prize for her contribution to investigating the impact upon pedagogy within a creative subject discipline.

The Research Prizes aim to recognise student research that explores learning and teaching in art, design and media, specifically in higher education. Isabelle said: “My work explored how higher education could be used to create the leaders of the future in creative organisations. In 10,000 words, I investigated the potential benefits of mixing design thinking and future leadership traits with leadership education.

“When I found out I’d won, I was really proud and I told my parents immediately. I feel like the work I submitted to the awards, and the extended version for my major project, is the best work I’ve ever written. I really feel like the things I learned from my tutors and during my MA helped push me to create research that was worthy of winning this prize.”

Isabelle’s research was aimed at improving the diversity of our future leaders in the creative sector. She proposed an innovative model and learning framework for teaching future leadership mindsets, skills and thinking to respond to this challenge.

Her work recognises that to be more inclusive, it is imperative and urgent for leadership education to be more experiential, people-centred and focused on the diverse needs of learners. The work builds on existing and established leadership principles in higher education, and proposes a more circular model for leadership education.

It may have only been a couple of weeks since Isabelle completed her Master’s degree, but she’s already started to think about her future career. She said: “I enjoyed my research so much that I’ve decided to apply for a PhD and continue to develop my work surrounding future leadership education. I will hopefully be working alongside my tutor Dr Mersha Aftab after she supported me so much this year.

“I enjoyed my Master’s course so much that my long-term goal now is to become a university lecturer in a subject relating to Design Management. The course at BCU was life changing for me; the teaching, learning environment and course content made me discover a new passion. I learned so much from the course that I want to work towards a career where I can help other students explore the world of Design Management.”

After her success, Isabelle has plenty of advice for current students, including to always think outside of the box. She said: “Make the most of the freedom the course gives you and take the chance to research topics close to your heart, theorise something brand new and always think outside the box.

“Innovation is one of the most important things you can engage with, not just in Design Management but in any creative career.”