Grand Valley announces design thinking initiative

John Berry
John Berry
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At the start of the academic year, Grand Valley announces a new initiative that continues its commitment to ensure students will be prepared for lifelong learning and careers in an ever-changing society.

The Design Thinking Initiative is a human-centered approach to solving problems and meeting needs using an organized method of defining, observing and considering those impacted. Provost Gayle R. Davis announced that John Berry will lead this initiative.

Berry has more than four decades of innovative design-related involvement with corporations, higher education, and nonprofit and professional associations on a regional and national level. Berry is executive director and founder of Design West Michigan, a design advocacy organization with more than 1,100 members. He also served as vice president for corporate communications for Herman Miller.

Davis said Berry will lead the exploration of how to connect existing programs, classes and co-curricular activities with appropriate new ones, and collaborate with other creative and innovative organizations in the region.

Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas said the university recognizes the importance of providing learning experiences to expand students exposure to integrated processes and systems.

“Design Thinking brings another opportunity to our students to see how collaboration and creativity can benefit all their lives and the growth of their communities,” Haas said.

Berry said he looks forward to establishing partnerships with organizations “that have an interest in expanding our design ecosystem. ”

“Grand Valley’s initiative significantly adds to the design ecosystem of West Michigan, which is extremely robust with design talent,” Berry said. “Creating this  initiative will allow students to gain additional experience with innovation and problem-solving that also will increase our regions’ ability to create and grow.”

Berry earned a master’s of fine arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is a past board member of the Michigan Humanities Council, OxBow Art and Artists School, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Kendall College of Art and Design. He is a current member of the National Advisory Committee for Cranbrook Academy of Art.