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Creativity and Innovation for Sustainable Food Systems


Subject Area Agriculture & Food Science
Credits 5
Start Date 20 May 2024
Duration 12 weeks
Mode of Delivery Online 
Course Leader (opens in a new window)Maurice Knightly
  • €625
  • 80% Learner Fee Subsidy (Please see below)
Application Deadline 13 May 2024

Rethinking current food systems is an urgent priority in order to address numerous challenges such as climate change, ageing population, poor diet-related health outcomes and food waste. The problems are complex and it is necessary for stakeholders along the food chain to think and act differently, and to identify opportunities for change, whether this is new product development, improved services or business models. There is a need to think and act with a more creative, innovative mindset.

This micro-credential has been developed in collaboration with UCDs Innovation Academy who have a wealth of experience to help you to access your innate ability for independent creative thinking and innovation in its broadest sense.. You will have a chance to explore and develop new approaches to creativity and innovation and to reflect upon and re-imagine your own practice of creative thinking, which can be applied in both your personal and/or professional practices. The Innovation Academy's learning-by-doing approach can help you discover creative ways to unlock your true potential.

We draw upon the Design Thinking framework in learning how to work through a process of understanding your user/customer, generating ideas, prototyping and testing.

Skill development in two learning areas will allow students to develop new ways of thinking creatively and entrepreneurially:

  1. Developing creative confidence. The objective is to introduce you to the inherent risk of failure in creative thinking and how to learn through prototyping and iteration. This will take place through a range of simple activity-based exercises.
  2. Understanding the evolution of innovative ideas employing the widely used and trusted Design Thinking process, where you will undertake an innovative design challenge. You will learn and practice the key skills of empathy/customer discovery, defining problems to be solved, idea generation, prototyping and feedback. The design thinking process will also nurture your creative confidence, curiosity, communication and collaborative skills.

Funding Available

Key Features

This micro-credential is relevant to anyone working in any aspect related to the agri-food sector and in any role. Transitioning to a healthier, more sustainable food system is a collective responsibility.

On completion, you should:

  • Have an excitement for innovation and an appreciation of the value of design thinking as a creative problem-solving Framework.
  • Have the ability and confidence to recognise, cultivate and apply creative and innovative thinking in your own context and appreciate its value in other arenas.
  • Be able to identify problems to be solved and generate innovative solutions to these problems.
  • Originate an innovative solution to a real industry problem/scenario within the context of a healthy, sustainable food system perspective by applying the five design thinking stages.
  • Appreciate the various challenges involved in the design process and how to deliver successful innovation that adds value.

Topics that will be covered include:

  • The importance of creativity and innovation
  • Fostering Creative Confidence and an Innovative Mindset
  • The value of the Design Thinking Framework
  • The stages of the DT framework: empathy and customer discovery, define, ideate, prototype and test
  • Communicating ideas
  • Reflective practice

The food industry is highly competitive, and customer satisfaction is key to success. Completing this course will introduce you to a tried and tested process for creatively solving complex problems and challenges which keep your consumer or end users centre stage.

You will gain the confidence and practical techniques to apply the process in your own contexts. There will be a call to action to apply your innovative mindset to identify opportunities within whatever role you play in the food system where you can make positive changes and add value. This may be in developing new and exciting products or packaging ideas, improving end-user experiences or introducing changes to how things operate.

This micro-credential will be delivered online through the UCD VLE system (Brightspace) and is designed for you to work through the lecture material at your own pace as much as possible, while meeting the assessment dates. The approach is learning by doing’ and applying skills to an individual problem-solving project with a food system challenge perspective.

  • Lectures will be uploaded weekly with regular associated e-challenges.
  • Discussion Forums and online collaborative tools will enable peer-to-peer engagement and feedback.

This is a 5 ECTS micro-credential and involves approximately 100 hours of learner effort.

Applicants are required to hold an NFQ level 8 Honours degree (minimum 2nd Class Honours Lower) or equivalent and ideally be working within a food system-related role.

Applicants who do not meet this requirement may be admitted on the basis of considerable relevant experience.

All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate proof of English proficiency as per UCD's minimum English language requirements.

Assessment will consist of:

  • Regular activity-based challenges throughout the micro-credential.
  • a short creative project presentation towards the end of the module.
  • a reflective report piece on the learning and self-development achieved to be submitted at the end of the module.

Written feedback will be provided on each assessed activity post–assessment. There will also be opportunities for feedback through tutor and peer interactions.

Please note: Learners can avail of only one form of funding per application. 

Micro-Credentials Learner Fee Subsidy-Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3

The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy has been introduced to enable more learners to address critical skills gaps and engage with lifelong learning through micro-credentials. The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy is funded by Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 

HCI Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidies are available on identified micro-credentials only and in fixed numbers from March 2024 until October 2025.  

Please see Eligibility Criteria for further information.