Suzanne Brink

Suzanne BrinkGuest PhD student
Phone: +46 90 786 72 99
Mobile: +46 70 78 714 78
Skype: suzanne.hallenga


I am Dutch and have a multidisciplinary background in Industrial Design Engineering (Masters of Science in Engineering, Delft University of Technology) and Educational & Child Studies (Masters of Science, Leiden University). I have done research in sustainable entrepreneurship at IDE, Design for Sustainability, TU Delft from 2000-2004. After that, I taught as a senior lecturer in Interaction Design at Avans University of Applied Sciences' Communication and Multimedia Design for 7 years, and at The Hague University of Applied Sciences at Communication and Multimedia Design as well as Industrial Design Engineering programmes for 7 years. My courses were many and diverse, mostly project-based with topics such as smart object, interactive installation design, experience design, , visualising information, visual communication, technology enhanced educational design, user research, the basics of IDE, portfolio design and exploring new technologies.  

In those 14 years, I also functioned as an educational advisor and innovator, and have helped to set up a highly innovative curriculum at Industrial Design Engineering in The Hague, and directed the implementation of the educational framework of CDIO in 12 engineering programmes simultaneously. I also co-led national accreditation processes, and worked on entrepreneurship in engineering education. I organised and gave many workshops on topics such as active blended learning, co-creation in curriculum development, integrated assessment, curriculum agily etc., sometimes using my Lego Serious Play facilitatorship, but always making it interactive sessions. I started writing and presenting papers on these topics on conferences such as CDIO, EAPRIL and SEFI. Inspired by all these experiences and experiments in teaching in and developing  of higher design education, I started a PhD on curriculum innovation in 2018 at the Graduate Centre for Teaching and Learning ICLON at Leiden University. In November 2019 I was the keynote speaker at the Swedish national engineering education conference Utvecklingskonferens för Sveriges ingenjörsutbildningar in Luleå, talking about "A Design Approach to Curriculum Innovation: Integrated, Flexible Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessment".

Since 1996, I have always worked as a freelance multimedia designer on the side, and the last years as a concept designer in educational interactio design specifically. This resulted in four interactive expositions for children in two Dutch musea, for which I co-designed the theme, main storyline and immersive experience, didactic activities and concepted the educative interactions for the exhibits.

In the fall of 2019, I moved to the Umeå area, and I am now a guest PhD student at UID. While there, I take part in a project on prototyping a new curriculum for the IxD Master programme. UID is also one of the cases I look at in my PhD research.


Higher design education is aimed to deliver designers in the work-field who can truly design, who can contribute to a sustainable society with their work, who are lifelong learners - able to become experts in new domains as their projects solicit -, and who contribute in unique ways to society with their creations. The challenge to reach these goals is growing as society is turning into a globalized VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world with rapid changes in technology and wicked problems to solve. Along with this, student diversity and a greater range of student learning needs is growing.

When these diverse students' talents remain untapped during their studies, for whatever reason, it causes distress and affects the motivation, well-being and achievements on a personal level. It results in study delays and drop-outs at a programme level. And at a societal level, it leads to a mismatch between graduates' qualifications and the needs in the professional context for varied designer profiles and innovative power. This loss of the effectivity of higher design education is undesirable for all parties involved. It calls for changes in how higher education is designed and offered.

Therefore, my PhD research so far examines design principles for a futureproof curriculum of a design programme that decreases underachievement and facilitates sustainable student talent development. The results will give design programmes insights how they can evoke optimal achievements of their diverse students by altering or finetuning certain aspects of their curriculum designs. Preliminary results point towards amongst others flexibility, reciprocal learning, a changing role of the teacher, and greater student ownership of the learning process.

Talk to me about:

  • unhindered talent development & effective learning
  • higher design education teaching & competency-based assessment
  • curriculum agility, development & innovation
  • visual information design
  • interaction & experience design
  • multimedia interface design
  • design for children
  • user centred design tools & co-creation
  • sewing, photography, moose