Creating Inclusive Rural Experiences: A Collaborative Approach to Technology-Integrated Design Thinking in Hsinchu’s Dashanbei Regio

2023-12-19

Hengshan Township in Hsinchu boasts the rich natural landscapes and profound historical background of the Dashanbei area, featuring well-preserved early ancient paths, including the Chating Historic Trail, Dazakidong Ancient Trail, and Qilong Historic Trail. Laden with centuries of history, these paths wind through lush greenery and captivating natural scenery, making Dashanbei an enticing destination in the leisure agriculture sector.

Amid Taiwan’s dual challenges of an aging population and declining birth rates, market demands for not only day-to-day necessities but also entertainment have become increasingly prominent, especially for the elderly, people with mobility issues, and their caregivers.

This includes a rising need for tourism products and services in leisure agriculture areas. The pressing question now is how to ensure that every citizen can enjoy the natural beauty of leisure agriculture areas and redesign rural experiences with inclusive, people-centric designs—a critical issue for promoting social inclusion in Taiwan.

To address this, Associate Professor Sirirat Sae Lim from the Institute of Management and Technology here at NYCU has designed a curriculum module titled ‘Creative Thinking and Problem Solving’ through the execution of the ‘112 Academic Rural Practice Co-creation Project.‘ Conducted within the framework of her in-service class, the module focuses on the design of ‘Technology-Integrated Friendly Rural Experiences.’

Utilizing creative thinking and problem-solving methodologies, the course incorporates field exploration as a core concept, blending design thinking and collaborative creation with industry cooperation. The aim is to propose inclusive rural experience products or services with technological integration, considering both technological feasibility and commercial viability.

Participants in this module consist of interdisciplinary and international postgraduate and doctoral students. Before embarking on field exploration, a common language is established by delving into the theories and applications of ‘creative and innovative thinking.’ Through diverse combinations formed in a non-restrictive manner, participants inject innovative factors into the design process.

Group photo of the event with participating students, (middle left) Mr. Kai-Yung Chuang and (middle right) Associate Professor Sirirat Sae Lim.

Subsequently, the ‘Technology-Integrated Sustainable Rural Experience’ module unfolds along three main axes to identify creative solutions:

01. Insight into Issues:
On November 12, Professor Lim led students, research teams, individuals with disabilities, elderly individuals, and children into the Dashanbei Leisure Agriculture Area for field exploration. Employing design thinking and co-observation with individuals with disabilities, the goal was to identify pain points and opportunities for friendly rural experience products or services. Cross-domain co-creation counseling was then conducted to cultivate a people-centric thinking mode among students, aiding them in considering the real needs of individuals with disabilities when developing innovative products or services.
02. Integration of Design Thinking and Co-creation of Values with Local Farmers:
On November 18, 112, a workshop titled ‘Definition, Development, and Execution of Design Thinking for Technology-Integrated Sustainable Rural Experiences’ was conducted. The workshop invited Mr. Kai-Yung Chuang, founder of the startup ‘Dashan North Moon,’ to share his ten years of experience in overcoming physical limitations and contributing to the development of Dashanbei in Hengshan Township. The workshop provided inspiration and ideas for students during the creative thinking process, promoting the creation of friendlier rural experiences through innovative products or services.
03. Co-creation of Innovative Practice Outcomes for the Good of the Rural Community:
On December 2, an event was held to showcase the results and reflections of the ‘Technology-Integrated Sustainable Rural Experience Design Thinking’ module. Students demonstrated the outcomes of their innovative practices and shared their learning reflections. This presentation holds significance not only for individuals with disabilities but also injects new energy and opportunities into rural development by introducing innovative and creative products to benefit the local community.

Cross-domain co-creation counseling between students and individuals with disabilities.

For More Information:NYCU Official Website Link

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