Lugano, Switzerland

Visual Thinking for (PhD) Researchers

when 11 August 2023 - 12 August 2023
language English
duration 1 week

The overall aim of this workshop is to help participants enhance their thinking and communication skills through the use of visual thinking, such as diagrams, knowledge maps or visual metaphors.

Working on a dissertation or research paper can be frustrating at times. Sometimes it may be because we feel overloaded with ideas and thoughts (cognitively), or we may feel overwhelmed and not motivated (emotionally), or we feel disconnected from our supervisor or peers (socially). Visual thinking is promising to overcome those challenges and work more productively and enjoyable.

This workshop will provide participants with the foundation of what visual thinking is and why it is beneficial for our thinking and communication. Based on these foundations, participants will learn more about the benefits and risks of visual thinking. Participants will see different visual forms through examples (tree diagrams, empathy maps and many more) and acquire sketching skills to express themselves visually (You don't have to be a good draftsman or be creative to be able to sketch!). Participants will apply what they have learned to visualise the story of their PhD or research project and the process of conducting a literature review. In addition, you are more than welcome to bring your current research problem or challenge so that we can tackle it visually.

The objectives of the workshop are that participants should:

…what visual thinking is and why it is relevant for researchers
…the benefits and risks of visual thinking
…what to visualise (visual templates, basic shapes, symbols)
…when to visualise (triggers)

be able
…to sketch visual templates (diagrams, metaphors, knowledge maps), basic shapes, symbols
…to apply visual thinking to their own research projects (e.g. the story of your PhD)

…value the (visual) process (concept of rapid prototyping from Design Thinking)
…value failure/mistakes as a healthy part of that process
…think visually (automatically) when approaching future problems and challenges

The workshop will be hands-on, with short inputs from the instructor and time to work on the exercises and own projects visually, where the instructor and peers will operate as sparring partners in a friendly environment.

Target group

graduate students, doctoral researchers, early career researchers

The course has no specific prerequisites. An open mind and curiosity are very welcome. Please note that visual thinking does not require any specific drawing skills. In fact, drawing too beautifully can take away from the value of visual thinking. So please, don't be shy and join even if you think of yourself as a not-so-good draftsman.

Fee info

CHF 0: This two-day workshop is free of charge for participants of regular workshops (week 1 or 2) of the Summer School in Social Science Methods.
CHF 200: Fee applicable if attendee is not enrolled in a regular (week 1 or 2) workshop of the Summer School in Social Science Methods.