Blog Post B: Interdisciplinary Advantage

Charter and Collaboration

Our group charter outlined the rules and expectations of our group members. The charter provided guidelines for acceptable activities such as being punctual to meetings, phone usage and eating, communicating through social media and completing work before class. We signed at the bottom to mark our commitment.


Groupwork Charter Image
An excerpt from the Green T Leaves’ Groupwork Charter

While we had agreed on paper to be punctual and prepared for meetings, we couldn’t account for the unexpected circumstances of reality. Group members were sick, more important assignments were due, meetings were miss-scheduled or forgotten. These missed opportunities slowed our progress and weakened collaboration. Susan A Nancarrow of the US National Institute of Health states that:

“…collaboration requires competence, confidence and commitment on the part of all parties. Respect and trust, both for oneself and others, is key to collaboration. As such, cooperative endeavour, willing participation, shared decision-making and time are required to build a relationship so that collaboration can occur” (Nancarrow et al. 2013)  

The key to improving our groupwork is to be continually put in time. Participation must be consistent so the group moves forward as a whole. Additionally, building a positive group-culture would encourage “willing participation” from more members and make teamwork a more enjoyable experience.


Interdisciplinary Advantage

The advantages of working in an Interdisciplinary team have become clear over the past 7 weeks. The IPD’s brought structural integrity and stability, our Fashion student brought tidiness and simplicity and the Vis Comm’s were in charge of effective visual media. Our backgrounds helped us better cater for our client’s needs. When there were tasks that no single discipline could complete, we were able to rely on each other’s skills. This view is shared by Robert Sternberg, a professor of psychology and education who wrote that:

“In today’s world, … problems of any significance … aggressively cross boundaries that render the perspectives and methods of single disciplines incomplete and inefficacious.

Students learn to think in terms of silos, but do not learn how to connect the silos of learning. A problem-based [Interdisciplinary] approach teaches such integration of knowledge and helps students realize how limited their thinking is.” (Sternberg 2016)

In our case, the integration of our knowledge “silos” allowed our group to design an effective caddy. We were able to overcome our personal disciplinary boundaries by utilising our collective skills and as a result produced a successful, award-winning result.


Designers for Systems

Design Thinking is quickly becoming an invaluable resource for corporations and big business. Businesses have realised the importance of a problem-solving approach that is iterative and user-centered. Because designers specialise in emotional intelligence and can empathise with their clients, they are able to identify behavioural patterns that point towards opportunities. The founder of Creativity At Work, Linda Naiman says:

“Human-centered innovation begins with developing an understanding of customers’ or users’ unmet or unarticulated needs. The most secure source of new ideas that have true competitive advantage, and hence, higher margins, is customers’ unarticulated needs.” (Naiman 2016)  

The success of designers does not come from tackling the biggest problem – but from understanding that the problem is the sum of many smaller ones. By working personally through small problems one person at a time, designers have the power to affect change across whole systems and work cultures. This is what designers can contribute to systems and business.


Designing for Organic Waste

The Organic Waste system is a difficult problem to address because it is constrained by the limitations of existing infrastructure and a diverse spectrum of cultural attitudes. Positive, lasting change requires implementing changes from end-to-end through primary research, prototyping, analysis and iteration at both the micro and macro scale. Designers will be essential in managing organic waste because it takes creativity and innovation to surpass the barriers of understanding, environmental values and tradition.



Naiman, L. 2016, ‘Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation’, Creativity At Work, vol. 1, viewed 8 May 2017, < >.

Nancarrow, S., Booth, A., Ariss, S., Smith, T., Enderby, P., Roots, A. 2013, ‘Ten Principles of Good Interdisciplinary Team Work’, US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health, Vol. 1, viewed 7 May 2017, < >.

Sternberg, R. 2016, ‘Interdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning: An Alternative to Traditional Majors and Minors’, Association of American Colleges & Universities, vol. 1, viewed 7 May 2017, < >.

Post A: Organic Waste Audit

The Food Audit


I conducted my Organic Waste Audit on Thursday the 30th of March. Because I had uni classes to attend, I spent the day in the city and ate from food courts. At the conclusion of the 24-hour period, I had not generated much organic waste aside from a nectarine core and some residual oil left over on a plate. I began to realise that because I had eaten at commercial food outlets, the food preparation process had been rendered invisible to me. I had not accounted for the organic waste generated in the preparation of my meal (eg. carrot peels, chicken bones, onion cores and shallot roots) because I hadn’t been able to see it.

It was then that I realized how difficult it can be for an individual to be sustainable within a wasteful system.


The Ethics

I began to question the extent of my responsibility for my organic food waste. Is it the role of the consumer to ensure the waste products of their prepared meal are managed sustainably? Is the consumer liable for the kitchen’s operations if they aren’t transparent? Does the kitchen take on a ‘duty of care’ for the consumer’s food, making them responsible? Furthermore, are the kitchen employees at fault for operating in a system that provides no sustainable disposal methods?

Angie Hobbs (Professor of Public Understanding in Philosophy) was critical of the role of the consumer, stating in an article:

“…consumers need to take a hard look at their own individual responsibilities… and consider what they put in their mouths. We need to become more aware of which processing techniques result in the most wastage and buy such foods more sparingly. Many of us also find it easier to waste food because of our distance from food production and wasted food may also often pile up out of sight” (Hobbs 2013).

An inclusive view was put forward in the article ‘A Participatory Approach to Minimizing Food Waste in the Food Industry—A Manual for Managers’. It noted that while

“…politicians and customers have called on the food industry to accept social responsibility for its impact on customers, society, and the environment”, the most effective solution to organic food waste is a participatory concept “…that integrates employees, customers, and other relevant stakeholders into the process… to counteract food waste” (Strotmann etal. 2017).

These statements support the observation that the ‘professionalism’ of modern food service contributes to consumer misperceptions of their food waste. I agree that the consumer should assume responsibility for their sustainability, but also that it is unfair to rest full accountability on one party. Collaboration between consumers and the business is necessary to create systemic change that is inclusive, transparent, and effective at properly managing organic waste.


Canape Audit

The ingredients in the canapés served at the Book Launch were sourced from within NSW. The canapés were served directly into people’s hands, drink glasses were refilled and plastic straws were issued instead of plastic ones. Finger-food platters lacked cutlery or disposable eating implements; encouraging people to use their hands to interact with the platter instead. These measures were implemented so that the inevitable waste produced could be minimized as much as possible (Australian Government 2012). Conversely, however, patrons were not allowed to see behind-the-scenes where food was coming and going, suggesting that the caterer’s disposal methods may not have been as sustainable as the food itself.




Australian Government 2012, Reducing Waste, Canberra, viewed 4 April 2017, < >.

Hobbs, Angie. 2013, ‘Food Waste: How Much of It Is Consumer Responsibility?’, theguardian, vol. 1, viewed 1 April 2017, <>.

Strotmann, C., Gobel, C., Friedrich, S., Kreyenschmidt, J., Ritter, G., &Teitscheid, P. 2016, ‘A Participatory Approach to Minimising Food Waste in the Food Industry – A Manual for Managers’, MDPI, vol. 1, viewed 2 April 2017, <>.