Julie Schell

Assistant Dean for Instructional Continuity and Innovation, College of Fine Arts
UT Austin

Dr. Julie Schell is a leading expert in learning design and innovation in higher education. She is a design thinker and educator and is super passionate about both. For the past four years, she has been using design thinking to create innovative solutions to the intractable problem of college completion. She is concerned about the rapid diffusion of simplified design thinking instruction in education, via the Bootcamp and 90-minute training trend--a phenomenon she refers to as design thinking's pedagogy problem. Julie is a champion of design thinking and its promise to address our schools' wickedest problems. As a community of change agents, she believes it is critical we stop jumping onto the design thinking bandwagon in education without thinking first about the reality that wicked problems are wicked for a reason. Transformative solutions require intensive, difficult cognitive work by trained experts.
Julie warns that if we fail to address design thinking’s pedagogy problem a golden window to transformative change in our schools will slam shut.

Julie is the Director of Texas OnRamps and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of Strategy and Policy at The University of Texas at Austin, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the new School of Design and Creative Technologies at UT Austin, where she specializes in design thinking, learning design, effectiveness, and innovation. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Program in Higher Education Leadership at the University. She teaches design thinking in two graduate courses: Technology and Innovation in Higher Education and Problems of College Teaching and Learning. Julie completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University and her doctorate in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her scholarship on teaching improvement awarded the Dissertation of the Year from the American Educational Research Association, Postsecondary Education Division in 2010.

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