ProgramME
SDSI focuses on developing service design strategies and leading service innovation

Service design is the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service to improve its quality and the interaction between service providers and customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers and participants so that the service is user friendly, competitive and relevant.
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Inter-disciplinary

Combining knowledge, insights, methods and tools from different disciplines

Iterative

Following a process based on learning cycles, enabling creation, testing and improvement in quick and cost-effective ways based on user research

Holistic

Considering the experience of the service in the entire user journey

Co-creative

Involving all stakeholders in the design process

User Centered

Designing services from the perspective of users based on their needs, led by research-based user design decisions.

Service Design

Services impact our daily lives as consumers, customers and citizens. We live and work in an Experience Economy in which our jobs, prosperity, and quality of life are affected by the way in which services are designed and managed. Over the past few decades, the service sector has become the largest component of the economy in the EU, currently accounting for 70% of GDP and generating 90% of jobs in the region.

Read more on Service Design

Curriculum

Service Design Strategies and Innovations (SDSI) is a new joint master’s programme with a focus on interdisciplinary studies and cross-specialisation in design, management, business and social sciences. We will help you become a versatile service innovator who can enable change in public and private organisations through strategic design, management and creative leadership.

Less than 30 students will be admitted to the programme annually, enabling individual and personalised approaches to the study process and providing close networking among students and teaching personnel.

Graduates will be awarded with a Master’s double degree, one from the Art Academy of Latvia and one from the University of Lapland. SDSI has strong connections to industry, ensuring research, design and testing opportunities with real industry partners on study topics and projects in Latvia and Finland.

Semester 1

Use novel service design methods, thinking and tools with emphasis on communication and collaboration.

Mobility to Kuldīga, Latvia

M1 Service Design Intro

After completion of the course, you will be familiar with the:

  1. Development and contemporary state of the field of service design
  2. Specific characteristics of services and services as an object of design and study
  3. Characteristics of the service economy and the role and impact of services on society
  4. Available literature on the subject and the SDSI reading list

Lecturer: Ilze Kundzina, Aivars Mednis, one lecturer from each academic partner institution

M2 Service Design Basics

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Understand the specific characteristics of services
  2. Understand the principles and processes of the human-centred service design approach, basic concepts and terminology
  3. Be familiar with the history and theory of the field of service design as well as trends and criticisms
  4. Apply service design theories, methods and tools, including design research and prototyping methods
  5. Identify and empathise with key target groups and gather evidence to understand their needs, preferences, behaviours and guiding values
  6. Map, define and articulate complex problems based on a well-justified synthesis of the available information and research evidence
  7. Develop and communicate proposals for solutions and innovation
  8. Understand and navigate the designer’s role in meeting customer needs and business objectives
  9. Define research-based design principles and a design brief to guide idea and concept development processes and justify design decisions
  10. Develop a thinking-by-doing mindset
  11. Apply design methods and tools in a team environment and gain experience with working in multicultural and interdisciplinary teams

Lecturers: Tanel Kärp, Nesli Hazal Akbulut, Maarja Mõtus, Ervīns Pastors

M3 Communication & Presentation

M3.1 Visual Communication Basics

After completion of the course, you will be able to understand and apply:

  1. Different visualisation techniques to communicate design concepts, systems, processes, and stories appropriate to the specific phase and outcomes of the service design project
  2. Graphic, typographic, and information design principles and organising information and making complex information accessible

Lecturer: Maija Rozenfelde

M3.2 Writing & Content Design

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Understand principles and apply techniques for effective written internal and external communication
  2. Design user-centred content for services and the web based on a content strategy

Lecturer: Līga Lētiņa

M3.3 Presentation Techniques

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Understand and apply basic presentation and negotiation techniques
  2. Understand the relation and dynamic between content, form and audience
  3. Manage expectations and time as well as attention and influence when presenting and understanding possible relationships between them
  4. Manage, prioritise and categorise information for presentation purposes
  5. Understand and apply design principles for presentation and slide design

Lecturers: Kristaps Pētersons, Maija Rozenfelde

M3.4 Storytelling

After completion of the course, you will have:

  1. Knowledge of historical, social, cultural and psychological contexts of storytelling
  2. Understanding storytelling principles, elements, tools, techniques and approaches across different media and how they relate and can be applied to the context of design and business
  3. Skills to critically evaluate and assess opportunities, challenges, and limitations of storytelling in the process of UX design
  4. Practiced ability to apply storytelling principles in telling, selling, and presenting their projects

Lecturer: Renārs Vimba

M4 Fascilitation & Collaboration

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Be familiar with theories on group functioning, small group dynamics and facilitation
  2. Understand collaborative team relationships and the role of the facilitator
  3. Practise a range of facilitation styles and techniques
  4. Plan appropriate processes to facilitate creative collaboration within teams and with stakeholders
  5. Understand self-presentation and personal communication and facilitation styles

Lecturers: Līga Lētiņa, Ilze Kundzina

M5 Information Architecture

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Develop an information architecture (IA) that explains the design (i.e. the structure, organisation, and prioritisation) of an information environment
  2. Apply rules and methods for organising the content and flow of a website, app, or system
  3. Run IA user research methods and analyse data: card sorting, tree testing, qualitative, interviews, usability tests and ethnographic research
  4. Organise collected information into a usable taxonomy (i.e. a labelling system that reflects the user’s mental model)
  5. Understand the basic principles of how users navigate in the digital environment
  6. Create a navigation system as a sitemap or user flow chart
  7. Understand the basics of optimising websites (SEO) for search engines and create an SEO strategy
  8. Use an IA to develop primary, secondary, global, and local navigation

Lecturer: Līga Lētiņa

M6 Service Design & Technology

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Understand the role and potential of new technologies in the services sector and the application of new technologies in the development of new services or transformation of existing services
  2. Understand the principles of sociotechnical systems, align these principles with prior skills and design sociotechnical systems
  3. Have prototyping skills for digital services and products to test ideas with customers and communicate with development teams
  4. Demonstrate basic knowledge in hardware development (Arduino)
  5. Be familiar with extended reality, including current devices, their limitations and potential applications for education, healthcare, entertainment and marketing
  6.  Have experience with creating an extended reality application
  7. Have basic knowledge in machine learning and neural networks
  8. Have experience with creating an application that uses machine learning algorithms

Lecturers: Raitis Linde, Krišjānis Určs

M13 MA Project Studio

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Define a design brief, including the context, challenge, goals, constraints, deliverables, performance criteria and resource requirements
  2. Apply cross-disciplinary theory and human-centred, evidence-based design research methods
  3. Deliver theory and research analysis in written and oral presentations
  4. Understand contexts and systems and identify the simplest service design challenge out of a variety of approaches
  5. Make and justify decisions characterised by context, impact, stakeholders and complexity

Lecturers: Melanie Sarantou, Liene Kupča, Aija Freimane

Semester 2

Gain cross-sector knowledge thorough research methods, a strategic and entrepreneurial mindset, and tools for organisational and financial management of services.

Mobility to Kuldīga, Latvia

M7 Social Research & Forecasting

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Know the main empirical social science methods, types of data, and techniques for collecting social science data
  2. Apply social science methods to the generation and analysis of data to inform policy, business and service delivery decisions
  3. Have knowledge of the specifics of social research and various approaches to research and analysis as well as their application possibilities in situation assessment and decision-making processes
  4. Select and underpin research approaches for a particular situation
  5. Elaborate on an appropriate research design to obtain necessary empirical information
  6. Anticipate potential difficulties related to the study of particular social issues
  7. Have knowledge about the principles of elaboration and application related to social indicators as well as how these principles are informed by and critically evaluate the content and validity of main social indicators 
  8. Have knowledge about the main elements of social forecasting and skills to make use of appropriate methodological approaches
  9. Understand the application of different approaches, settings and patterns that could be used as practical tools for identifying different challenges and evaluating possible solutions.

Lecturer: Viola Korpa

M8 Building & Managing Organisations, M9 Business Lab

M8.1 Strategy

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify core strategic choices of an organisation
  2. Understand the main external drivers affecting an organisation
  3. Identify how strategic choices position an organisation in its industry/environment and create competitive advantage
  4. Apply the aforementioned when developing and implementing service design activities in particular organisations to reach organisational goals

Lecturer: Yuri Romanenkov

M8.2 Organisation, Management and Leadership

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Explain key metaphors for thinking about organisations
  2. Demonstrate holistic understanding of the structure of organisational design and processes
  3. Demonstrate historically informed understanding of organisational structures
  4. Analyse complex/open cases and offer recommendations for organisational improvement

Lecturer: Dmitrijs Kravcenko

M8.3 People Management

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify and understand HR processes and how they are linked to other business processes
  2. Propose theory- and best practice-based solutions for how HR processes and approaches can be used, improved, and developed to create and implement service design initiatives (i.e. communication, team development, motivation, performance management)

Lecturer: Inga Gleizdane

M8.4 Customer Insights

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Apply insights from behavioural sciences to better understand the customer and apply the insights within the organisation
  2. Apply behavioural insights in everyday work challenges, including critically assessing the processes currently in place as well as designing better, behaviourally informed interventions for behaviour change

Lecturer: Heidi Reinson

M8.5 Technology Management

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Understand the basic principles of technology adoption cycles
  2. Identify and critically analyse new technology drivers and their potential impact on business
  3. Understand and apply basic principles of the Lean–Agile mindset
  4. Translate customer needs into business benefit hypotheses for technology solutions
  5. Understand how to deconstruct sizeable technology solutions into actionable roadmaps

Lecturer: Krists Avots

M8.6 Accounting for Managerial Purposes

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Define the need for the preparation of financial statements for a company
  2. Explain the steps to prepare and components of the statement of financial position and income statement of a company
  3. Define the methods for evaluation of the financial performance of a company
  4. Interpret the results of the application of financial ratios for evaluation of the financial performance of a company
  5. Describe the costing methods for a product or service
  6. Explain the necessity of budgeting for a company and the budgeting methods

Lecturer: Natalja Tocelovska


M9 Business Lab

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Develop and design a business model
  2. Develop an entrepreneurial mindset and gain experience in entrepreneurial activity (as a career alternative to being employed)
  3. Understand key concepts and apply techniques of the Lean Start-up methodology
  4. Gain experience in developing and launching a new service as a start-up
  5. Apply start-up practices to other working environments (thus learning how to fail in a less painful way)
  6. Gain experience in collaboration, organisation and project management
  7. Gain experience in competence-based peer-to-peer learning through teamwork

Lecturer: Viesturs Sosārs

M13 MA Project Studio

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Define a design brief, including the context, challenge, goals, constraints, deliverables, performance criteria and resource requirements
  2. Apply cross-disciplinary theory and human-centred, evidence-based design research methods
  3. Deliver theory and research analysis in written and oral presentations
  4. Understand contexts and systems and identify the simplest service design challenge out of a variety of approaches
  5. Make and justify decisions characterised by context, impact, stakeholders and complexity

Lecturers: Melanie Sarantou, Liene Kupča, Aija Freimane

Semester 3

Apply previously acquired knowledge for designing innovative real-life services in collaboration with industry.

Mobility to Rovaniemi, Finland

M10 Design Management & Leadership

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Understand and outline leadership against managerial roles, different leadership styles and their situational appropriateness
  2. Understand and outline appropriate leadership practices (e.g. communication, motivation, decision-making, negotiation, emotional intelligence)
  3. Understand and outline the roles of leaders in processes of change management and the factors that need to be considered
  4. Identify and outline how various design approaches can be applied when leading transformative processes
  5. Assess opportunities, challenges and limitations of external and internal environments in service design initiatives
  6. Understand, outline, and develop leadership practices (individually and in teams), such as facilitating, organising, initiating and leading service design projects

Lecturer: Melanie Sarantou

M11 Digital Service Design

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify the potential of digitalisation and its role in the development of services
  2. Identify factors affecting the functionality and usability of digital services
  3. Outline the principles of artificial intelligence solutions in digital services
  4. Design digital services in a human-centred way using service design methods
  5. Outline areas of expertise related to the development of digital services

Lecturer: Mira Alhonsuo

M12 Strategic Service Design

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Integrate service design into the strategic planning of an organisation and wider societal and cultural contexts
  2. Manage an organisation’s service ecosystem
  3. Identify the possibilities of service design in strategic planning
  4. Evaluate services from a critical perspective
  5. Analyse personal activities from the perspective of sustainable development and ethics

Lecturer: Pertti Aula

M13 MA Project Studio

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Define a design brief, including the context, challenge, goals, constraints, deliverables, performance criteria and resource requirements
  2. Apply cross-disciplinary theory and human-centred, evidence-based design research methods
  3. Deliver theory and research analysis in written and oral presentations
  4. Understand contexts and systems and identify the simplest service design challenge out of a variety of approaches
  5. Make and justify decisions characterised by context, impact, stakeholders and complexity

Lecturers: Melanie Sarantou, Liene Kupča, Aija Freimane

Semester 4

Carry out a design project or practical research individually or in teams of two students at one of SDSI’s partner schools.

M14 MA Project

SDSI includes a master’s project, and students can select between a project- or research-based format.

After completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Create an overview of existing canonical examples, best practices, and academic state of the art in a chosen subfield of service design.
  2. Independently plan, execute, and (re-)frame design activities at an advanced level in a chosen subfield (individually or in teams) within the time and resources available.
  3. Choose techniques suitable for an advanced-level design project and apply them appropriately.
  4. Perform, document, and communicate design activities as part of knowledge production within the framework of service design research.
  5. Communicate, present, and discuss a project verbally, in written form, and through other means appropriate for the chosen subfield and the nature of the project.
  6. Critically reflect upon the design-based research methodology applied, including identification of the needs for further research and learning.
  7. Assess an advanced-level design project.
  8. Assess the professional and academic value of practice and knowledge contributions to service design research.

Lecturers: Ilze Kundzina, Aija Freimane, Andris Teikmanis, Barbara Abele, Viola Korpa, Liene Kupča, Melanie Sarantou, Mira Alhonsuo, Pertti Aula, Tanel Kärp, Nesli Hazal Akbulut, Maarja Motus, Inga Gleizdane, Viesturs Sosars, Raitis Linde

Where will this take you?

We will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be prepared for an uncertain future. You will know how to identify and satisfy unmet needs in a wide range of sectors, such as health care, transportation, education, finance and retail. You will execute leadership roles in organisations in the private and public sectors, spearheading change processes, envisioning the future, managing multidisciplinary teams and overcoming innovation roadblocks.

Upon graduation, you will:
Become a versatile professional with an agile mindset
Transform existing service design concepts by integrating research-based user needs and organisational strategies
Apply holistic approaches and user-centred design principles
Understand social, economic, and technological contexts in which private and public services function
Be an organisational change facilitator
Have grown into leadership roles through experience 

Career Opportunities
Map of SDSI locations

Locations

The study process includes study periods abroad to Kuldīga in Latvia and Rovaniemi in Finland. The study year 2021 / 2022 will be organised mostly on-line, with four on-site weeks (once in two months) during the 1st study year. Occasional workshops might be organised in Tallinn, Estonia and Riga, Latvia. SDSI locations are ‘safe countries’ characterised by societies striving for social and economic development, wellbeing, and culture.

Through their international offices, partner countries offer well-established networks for finding suitable student accommodations and public transport, with airports nearby. Partner countries are internationally known for the beauty of their natural resources, green forests, and the Baltic Sea, and unlimited options exist for hiking, exploring, finding peace of mind and spending quality time on your studies. 

Kuldīga, Latvia

Due to its picturesque and well-preserved medieval cityspace, Kuldīga often serves as a stage for international filmmakers, artists and photographers. Creative ambience is the reason why the fresh, 2021-built SDSI campus building is located here. From Kuldīga, you can access the beach in about 30 minutes, and the widest natural waterfall in Europe on the river Venta is located in the very centre of town. Kuldīga is also known for its potential listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the slow-food culture, and a year-round arts and cultural programme. 

Rovaniemi, Finland

The city of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle of Finnish Lapland is known as the official home of Santa Claus. The lure of magical white winters and romantic aurora borealis tempt visitors to experience the stunning views and captivating, mysterious wilderness beyond the city streets. Visitors to the city may have to discover which of the eight seasons of Lapland they will experience and explore upon their stay.

Partners

LMA logo

The Art Academy of Latvia was founded in 1919, and its expertise includes various fields of visual art and design. A modernised tradition of academic education, openness to topical art processes and activities, and a hands-on individual approach by the teaching personnel in preparing young artists have ensured and preserved the Academy’s authority.

With 700 students, the Academy is characterised as an example of exceptionally good collaboration between students and their professors. 2021 marks a new era for the Academy by inclusion of service design in its curricula list and the newly built, modern campus in Kuldīga, designed specifically for SDSI students.

LMA logo

Originally established in 1979, the University of Lapland aimed to provide higher education opportunities for those living in the far reaches of northern Finland. Now the university has grown into an international, multidisciplinary university whose areas of expertise include art and design, education, law, social sciences, Northern and Arctic themes, and tourism research.

Our first-class Arctic design labs support cutting-edge research on the interactions between people and the environment in the Arctic. Our interactions with community, businesses, and society are at the core of our research in northern Finland.

LMA logo

The Financial Times-ranked Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga) is the leading business school in the region. SSE Riga is a comparatively small school with 450 students and a dynamic international learning environment – 60% of the core faculty is international, and programmes are designed in close cooperation with its ‘parent school’ in Stockholm.

Through active alumni from the Bachelor’s programme in Economics and Business, professional Executive MBA programme, various non-degree management training, Centre for Media Studies, and public debate and research activities, SSE Riga fulfils its mission to contribute to the economic, social and democratic development of the region. 

LMA logo

Established in 1914, the Estonian Academy of Arts is one of six public universities in Estonia. It combines a unique mix of heritage and cutting-edge art and technology, as its small size allows for agility and constant innovation. As a school of 1000 students and a 1:3 teacher–student ratio, individualised study and personal mentorship are at the core of student development.

The multitude of creative departments, many of which have been operating for close to a century, enable design students to be inspired by textile and fashion designers, blacksmiths, ceramists, sculptors and many others.

Located in the western part of Latvia, approximately 150 km from the capital Riga, Kuldīga is known as a creative centre in Latvia. The visual resemblance of a medieval town is a result of meticulous long-term policy implemented by Kuldīga Municipality to preserve the authentic architectural details of local buildings and the cityscape, especially in light of a nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Over the last few years, the trend of a growing number of creative start-ups can be observed. Benefits of studying SDSI in Kuldīga include industry proximity for unlimited experience with service innovations, tourist destinations within walking distance and an affordable lifestyle. 

Kuldīga Artists’ Residence is an NGO, established in 2014, that has undertaken the role of bringing artistic and cultural vibrations to the town through visual arts residency programmes, design and creative industries projects, international summer schools, year-round exhibition programmes and various public events – lectures, workshops and artists’ talks.

Since 2016, Kuldīga Artists' Residence has been a zealous advocate for establishing the SDSI programme in Kuldīga, working in close collaboration with the Kuldīga Municipality and the Art Academy of Latvia. Since 2017, the Residence has supported the brand of Kuldīga Creative Summer School annual SDSI service design summer workshops.