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Pressure Cooker

Design Thinking

The Pressure Cooker 'Design Thinking' is an intensive transdisciplinary learning activity aimed at connecting science and society. It offers students an authentic learning experience by providing them a real challenge from an external client. Students work on the challenge by first analyzing the problem then designing a solution and finally testing the prototype. This educational format has been successfully carried out in several courses within the UvA, both at a Bachelor's and Master's level.

It offers students a transdisciplinary and unconventional learning experience, that challenges them to achieve transferable skills, build bridges between the academic world and society, enables them to bring science into practice, enhances creative solution thinking and to implement ideas.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an activity-based method closing the gap between the academic and the social world. The aim of Design Thinking is using a design-based approach in thinking of innovations that are orientated on users and their needs.

For whom?

The Pressue Cooker can be offered as part of a module or course but can also stand on its own. It is suitable for both Bachelor's and Master's students, regardless of their disciplinary background or prior knowledge.


The Pressure Cooker consists of running through the Design Thinking phases using specific tools offered in training and workshops, fieldwork, group work, meetings and reflection assignments. The total duration varies between 2,5 - 5 days in a row, spread out during a course. It sometimes is programmed at the start of a course as a kick-off or at the end of a course as a wrap-up.


Copyright: UvA
The Pressure Cooker connected well with Urban Planning theories on the use of local knowledge that were part of our course. In the end, students presented their findings to the stakeholders, with beautifully designed presentation posters, which sparked new discussions." Joris Buis, lecturer

Cook with us!

Following the successful Pressure Cooker pilots, we are now implementing this educational format wider within Dutch universities. We can support you in setting up a tailor-made Pressure Cooker by:

  • Handing over our User Guide of the 'Pressure Cooker Design Thinking';
  • Offering a professional training for lectures in order to support or facilitate the Pressure Cooker;
  • Delivering a facilitator who will accompany and support you and your students during the process of the project;
  • Matching your academic goals with the client's wishes;
  • Help with finding suitable clients and issues.