2. Industrial Revolution



ASSIGNMENT: Industrial Revolution: Captains of Industry Research Paper

Your assignment:

Write a 3–5 page paper (plus title page, bibliography and supporting images) that focus on analysis by the principals of Design Thinking. You must specifically focus on the innovations of one of the Captains of Industry from the period of time known as the Industrial Revolution, roughly 1760 to 1840. The Industrial Revolution was a period in which fundamental changes affected virtually all aspects of life; agriculture, communication, textile and metal manufacture, transportation, economic policies and social structure. A leader or major innovator from any one of these areas is possible for you to choose.

Your assignment is to choose one of the individuals from the Captains of Industry list who was instrumental in one of these areas of industry and then form a thesis or theory about their innovations and contributions. Traditionally, this might follow a “cause and effect” process where the innovation is the cause and the effects are how it impacted the industry. However, a design thinking approach is a slightly different way of applying cause and effect. Instead, as a design thinker, you should look at the innovation not as the cause but instead as the effect, or result, of the zeitgeist influences and experiences that surrounded the person and event.

A key component of this thesis is to also connect it to the points, topics, and ideas expressed in our text book: Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation. Your paper should follow a logical sequence of explaining your thesis by “connecting the dots” between what you see, what your research has uncovered or shown you, your text book and the resulting impact the work has had. You must set up some guidelines for yourself which should include the basic context/design thinking areas of:

  • Zeitgeist influences
  • Historical influences
  • Stylistic influences
  • Location/Geographic influences
  • Cultural influences
  • Belief (religion, tradition, spiritualism, etc.)  influences
  • Individual knowledge/expertise/interest/experience as influences
One of the main aspects of this research paper assignment is that, whomever you pick, you must relate their innovations/accomplishments to either the Industrial Revolution or the Victorian Age. So, in addition to whatever person your thesis specifically focuses on, as a part of the zeitgeist of design thinking you must also place him/her within:
  •  the overall context of the technology of the Industrial Revolution


  • the aesthetic look or moralistic views of the Victorian Age 

It is important to realize that Victorianism is both an aesthetic style and a moral attitude. It is not the same thing as the Industrial Revolution, even though many products of the Industrial Revolution have a Victorian look.

Use the powerpoint on the influence of the Industrial Revolution on the Graphic Arts that was presented in class as an example of a starting point. In that powerpoint I identified several specific technologies, inventions and people where each could serve as a point of departure to explore the concept of design thinking further.

some general guidelines:

I am interested in your opinions, thoughts and ideas concerning your subject. Support those ideas with documented facts as much as possible.

Follow a general progressive development format for your writing which includes

  1. Do a general read about your chosen person to discover possible areas that interest you the most and can become the core of you thesis.
  2. thesis proposal—a statement or opinion which is the basis or theme of your paper. A suggestion is to write one in the form of a question that will direct your research in a way that you can discover something new/unique, details about how or why or when your person was able to accomplish what he/she did, and most of all what were the “mitigating circumstances” or perfect combination that motivated or influenced the innovation.
  3. develop reasons or ideas which support your overall thesis—this general development should site factual sources or events, quote persons, make comparisons, relate to the context of the times, or show how it influenced the general evolution of design
  4. conclusion—restate your original thesis in a summary fashion
  • Your subject should address the four aspects of:
    1. Technology— of the time, what specific influence did it have. For this paper technology is from the Industrial Revolution
    2. Aesthetics—or the “look”, describe it specifically (line, shape, color, typeface, style, uses, influences. etc.) For this paper this aesthetic is Victorian style.
    3. Context—how it relates to other world or regional events of the time (the Zeitgeist)
    4. Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation—concepts from your textbook
  • Title page, Bibliography and illustrations, pictures, diagrams are required as support material to your written paper. The Page count does not include title page, supporting pages of illustrations, pictures, diagrams, or  bibliography.
  • You may use any one of the formal research writing style guides for citation format but APA is preferred. You do not have to use the APA format for the writing of the paper itself.

Due TUESDAY, February 26th.