Disrupting the Social Algorithm of a Small Private Not-For-Profit Australian University to Reshape Undergraduate Curriculum

Keitha Dunstan
Bond University

Jeff Brand
Bond University

At a strategy meeting in 2018, it was agreed that Bond University needed to be more responsive to the changing landscape of work and the needs of the future. It was decided to create a virtual vehicle to scaffold and nurture this innovation. The Bond University Transformation CoLab was established to provide virtual space that cultivated enduring partnerships between students, staff, industry and the community. It was intended that the CoLab would allow staff and students to work directly with industry in a transdisciplinary setting to create initiatives that would guarantee Bond graduates are sought after by employers. The CoLab is a portmanteau, a collaboration laboratory, a cognitive labyrinth and a communication laboratory. The CoLab is a place where we can explore new ways of thinking, new ways of knowing and new ways of learning to enable our graduates to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The CoLab was designed to support the work of Bond University educators to ensure that graduates are accomplished problem-solvers and innovators who are excellent collaborators, networkers, exceptional leaders and superb communicators. Our objective was to ensure that Bond graduates have the breadth of knowledge, abilities and skills that enable them to identify the information they need to solve any problem and to create any solution. This emphasis on transdisciplinary capability was intended to prepare them for the global world of the future. Forty-seven staff members were directly involved in the design teams with a further thirteen staff coming on board as champions duringthefinal stages of development.

Early achievements of the CoLab include revision of the Bond University Graduate Attributes and the launch of four new transdisciplinary transformation degree programs that enable graduates to succeed in new and emerging careers;
o Bachelor of Digital Transformation
o Bachelor of Entrepreneurial Transformation
o Bachelor of Health Transformation
o Bachelor of Legal Transformation.

This work was completed using a series of design teams comprised of staff and students from across all academic disciplines and administrative areas of the University. A project manager was put in place and an overseeing master team oversaw the workplans for each of the design team over approximately eighteen months. Each design team had a leader and was assigned a high level objective. There were no rules, limitations or directed instructions. Each team’s work took followed the direction of consensus with failed ideas and outrageous ambitions being the norm. The teams were able to modify their objectives and swap ideas with other teams. The end products, four transformation degrees bore little resemblance to early ideas.

This paper explains how the staff at Bond University were able to break out of their disciplinary and administrative silos to implement culture change by engaging across the University to work together to reshape the Undergraduate Curriculum at Bond University.