University of Technology Sydney

81511 Problems to Possibilities

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Creative Intelligence and Innovation: Transdisciplinary Innovation
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.
Anti-requisite(s): 81539 Impossibilities to Possibilities


In this first subject of the combined degree, students engage in a creative series of practical activities that bring them to a broad understanding of creative intelligence and innovation as a field of practice. This subject enables students to gain firsthand experience of the nature of today's open, complex, dynamic and networked problems. They are challenged to analyse problem situations from multiple perspectives and to integrate these findings in ways that lead to new possibilities. In the process, students develop and hone their skills in team collaboration, visualisation, modelling, representation and presentation.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Identify, describe and explore a range of challenges in order to discern significant opportunities
2. Generate imaginative ideas, speculative scenarios and propose useful methods to explore actionable questions
3. Consider and use visualisation methods from disciplinary practices to probe and generate new associations or findings
4. Explore and describe the city as an interrelated map of humanity
5. Select, test and evaluate different disciplinary methods for gaining insights into a complex system
6. Articulate and explain the thinking behind particular selections of ideas, strategies, findings and interpretations generated in multi-disciplinary teams
7. Develop a clear and convincing rationale to support the proposal for a particular solution
8. Communicate persuasively with an understanding of audience requirements
9. Manipulate and communicate experiences, ideas and findings to see the problem or context differently

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject contributes specifically to the development of the following course intended learning outcomes:

  • Identify and represent the components and processes within complex systems and organise them within frameworks of relationships (CII.1.1)
  • Select, apply and evaluate various techniques and technologies for investigating and interpreting complex systems (CII.1.2)
  • Explore the relevance of patterns, frameworks, approaches and methods from different disciplines, professional practices or fields of inquiry for gaining insights into particular problems, proposals, practices, contexts and systems (CII.2.2)
  • Analyse problem situations or contexts from multiple disciplinary or personal perspectives and integrate findings in creative and useful ways (CII.2.3)
  • Interrogate and generate ways to create value and evaluate outcomes (CII.2.5)
  • Communicate, explore, network and negotiate in ways that are inclusive of and mine for ideas from diverse disciplines (CII.3.1)
  • Articulate often-complex ideas simply, succinctly and persuasively to a diverse team or audience (CII.3.4)
  • Identify significant issues, challenges or opportunities and assess potential to act creatively on them (CII.4.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The subject provides opportunities for you as a student to draw on various disciplinary and non-disciplinary perspectives to begin exploring and developing your own creative innovation practices. You experiment and play with a range of methods to discern the ways disciplines approach problem situations and apply insights to develop your own proposals for responding to complex real-world challenges. Finally, you test your ideas in practice by communicating them to a range of audiences.

So your experiences as a student in this subject support you to develop the following graduate attributes (GA):

  • GA1 Complex systems thinking
  • GA 2 Create value in problem-solving and enquiry
  • GA 3 Inter- and trans-disciplinary practices
  • GA 4 Imaginative and ethical citizenship

Teaching and learning strategies

Learning in this subject will take place in a collaborative, immersive, experiential, distanced learning environment. This subject uses problem-based learning strategies that involves students in researching and developing their own / group solutions to complex problems / scenarios. Students will learn from academics and professionals across a wide range of disciplines, undertaking real briefs for real clients in real time. Staff, peers and invited experts will give formative feedback continually through class activities as students develop their future-oriented projects.

Some sessions in will be run via Zoom, and to log into these sessions students must be logged into Zoom via their UTS student account - instructions for this can be found on the Canvas site.

Content (topics)

* Introduction to a wide variety of disciplinary practices

* How to ‘think different’

* Exploring complexity

* Developing and communicating possibilities


Assessment task 1: Exploring ideas worth spreading.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 and 3

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.3.1, CII.3.4 and CII.4.1

Type: Design/drawing/plan/sketch
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

Assessment task 2: Problems in situ


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

CII.1.1, CII.1.2, CII.2.2, CII.2.3, CII.2.5 and CII.3.4

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 30%

Assessment task 3: Sense-making and communicating


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives:


This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):


Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Minimum requirements

Students must attempt each assessment task and achieve an overall pass mark in order to pass this subject.

Late penalties apply to all assessment tasks as outlined in the FTDi FYI student booklet. Please consult this booklet for other useful information including Special Consideration, Plagiarism, Extension, and Student Support Services.

A minimum of 80% of attendance of classes (as outlined in the timetable) is required.

Required texts

Readings for core themes

The following chapters are available as PDF eReadings from the UTS Library and can be accessed via Canvas.

Johansson, F. 2004, ‘The intersection – your best chance to innovate’, in The Medici effect: breakthrough insights at the intersection of ideas, concepts and cultures, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, pp. 11 – 20.

Johnson, S. 2010, ‘Reef city web’, in Where good ideas come from: the natural history of innovation, The Penguin Group, London, pp. 1 – 22.

Turchi, P. 2004, ‘Metaphor: or, the map’, in Maps of the imagination: the writer as cartographer, Trinity University Press, San Antonio, pp. 11 – 25.

Dennet, D. 1996, ‘How to make mistakes’, in J. Brockman & K. Matson (eds.), How things are: a science tool-kit for the mind, Phoenix, London, pp 137 – 144.

Kelley, T. & Littman, J. 2002, ‘Innovation begins with an eye’, in The art of innovation, Harper Collins Business, London, pp. 23 – 52.

Gardner, H. 1993, ‘Chance encounters in wartime Zurich’, in Creating minds, Basic Books, New York, pp 3 – 18.

Berger, W., 2014, ‘Introduction: Why questioning?’, in A more beautiful question : the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas , Bloomsbury, New York, pp 1 – 9.

The following chapter is available for download from the web.

Hill, L., Brandeau, G., Truelove, E. & Lineback. K. 2014, '1. What collective genius looks like', in Collective genius: the art and practice of leading innovation, Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, pp. 9-23. Available from

Recommended texts

Johnson, S. 2010, ‘Error’, in Where good ideas come from: the natural history of innovation, The Penguin Group, London, pp. 129 – 148.

Pink, D. 2005, ‘Right brain rising’, in A whole new mind: how to thrive in the new conceptual age, Cyan Books, London, pp. 7 – 27.

Gladwell, M. 2006, ‘Introduction – the statue that didn’t look right’, in Blink: the power of thinking without thinking, Penguin Group, London, pp. 3 – 17.

Brand, S. 2000, ‘The order of civilization’, in The clock of the long now: time and responsibility, Phoenix, London, pp 33 – 39.

Johnson, S. 2001, ‘See what happens’, in Emergence: the connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software, Allen Lane, London, pp 227 – 234.

Dennett, D. C., 2014, ‘Rapoport's rules’ in Intuition pumps and other tools for thinking, Penguin, London.

Other resources

You may find these useful as you search for inspiration for Assessment Task 1:

TedTalks – “Ideas worth spreading”

NASA – “National Aeronautics and Space Administration"

National Geographic – “Explores the People, Places and Events of Our World"

ABC News – “Australian Broadcasting Corperation"

The New Scientist – “International New from a Scientific Standpoint"

The Conversation – “In-Depth Analysis, Research, News and Ideas from Leading Academics and Researchers”

Ads of the World – “Award-Winning Ads from Around the World”

The Philosopher’s Mail – “Philosophical Intelligence within Society”

How Stuff Works – “Unbiased, Reliable, Easy-to-Understand Answers and Explanations of How the World Actually Works"

Art Project – Google Cultural Institute – “Art, Architecture, Archive.”

Fast Company – “Design, Ideas, Perspectives, Curiosities.”

The Creativity Post – “Quality Content on Creativity, Innovation and Imagination”

Edge – “To Arrive at the Edge of the World's Knowledge"

Dumbo Feather – “Conversations with Extraordinary People”

Arch Daily – “The World's Most Visited Architecture Website"