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Designing Designers: A critical look at design education

Format: Maps & Exhibits, RSD7, Topic: Learning & Education

Campbell T., Lutterman A.

Design has enormous influence on the world at all scales; it mediates our daily experiences and shapes our ways of life. We all “design” to some degree, but professional designers are in a unique position to influence our social practices, our environment, and our experiences of the world. The ways in which professional designers practice is commonly formed through tertiary design education (i.e. at a university or similar). Living in a time of global ecological and social crises when design could be leveraged to transition to alternative futures, we take a critical look at design education, asking how we might navigate toward sustainable and equitable design practices through a preferred design education landscape. WHAT IS DESIGN? Design goes far beyond its popular understanding, ranging from physical products to the natural environment. The deeper layers of design encompass the layers found above them. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? Critiques of the current design education landscape have been mapped using Causal Layered Analysis (CLA). The four layers of CLA get deeper to understand a problem from its surface-level manifestations to its deepest, unconscious roots. WHO IS INVOLVED? Surface-level problems may be located within design schools, while deeper issues are located within increasingly diffused spaces. We have identified key actors within each problem space and the interventions they have power to act upon. HOW DO WE TAKE ACTION? Below are a list of possible points of intervention for transforming design education toward a preferred future from surface to system, drawing directly from the critiques mapped using CLA. A FINAL WORD… It is important to discuss and address the surface-level problems within design education, but lasting change will require an exploration of their deep, systemic causes. A preferred future for design education involves working to not only better the education itself, but to build a better world.




Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2018
Title: Designing Designers: A critical look at design education
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 23 September 2018
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