The LEGO Course: Engineering Design and Values

Course Code
STS 2500
Benjamin Laugelli

According to Fast Company magazine, “In the last 10 years, [LEGO] has grown into nothing less than the Apple of toys: a profit-generating, design-driven miracle built around premium, intuitive, highly covetable hardware that fans can’t get enough of” (2015). Building on this insight, the course examines LEGO not just as a leading toy company but also as a tech company engaged in, among other things, engineering design, innovation, and education oriented around a particular set of values. The course capitalizes on the unique structure of the J-Term to deliver both a seminar and a studio experience. In the morning seminar sessions, students discuss topics such as LEGO’s history, culture and values, intellectual property, global supply chain network, sustainability and social responsibility practices, STEAM education initiatives, as well as LEGO users and fan culture, the technology of the LEGO brick, and the politics of the LEGO Minifigure. In the afternoon studio sessions students gain experience in design practices as they experiment with various LEGO elements, consider how LEGO products configure child and adult users, and work in teams to design physical and digital LEGO models that express LEGO’s mission to “inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.”