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Design Education and Globalisation : the New Deal (PartV) – The need to adapt curriculum to a shifting context

The need to adapt curriculums to a shifting context

All higher education institutions are soon going to have to cope with major development-related issues, namely:

1) Strengthening the winning triumvirate “research – education – business” shaping their curriculums. If obviously most schools now favor work-based curriculums, there is still a lot to be done to organize research and knowledge production activities in coherence with social and economic. “Research in design” raises many interrogations thus giving researchers much food for thought. But it often amounts to conducting research about what “research in design” could be. Of course, such a mise en abyme is far from being efficient or serious. Nonetheless institutions must imperatively voice their opinions about this issue so as to improve the quality of their outputs. Along the same line the bond between education institutions and their industrial partners should be redefined and clarified: schools can no longer stand to be substituted for agencies. “Incubation centers” – where new projects will be hatched – must be implemented. Moreover, like engineering schools, design schools must evolve into “innovation centers.”

Giving a true international dimension to curriculums. The signing of the Bologna Treaty which lays the foundation of a worldwide organization of higher education curriculums around Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD’s will probably result in students pursuing their Bachelor’s in their native country and their Master’s Degree abroad. Master’s Degrees in design are but a budding initiative for now. Only the most competitive Master’s Degrees – complying with the winning triumvirate “research–education–business” will attract foreign students.

As schools gradually begin to organize their training courses around “socio-economical themes,” cross-disciplining and versatile skills will undoubtedly be brought to the fore. The former segmentation framing design education according to traditional categories such as product design, interior architecture, graphic design, and multimedia is going to be shattered to pieces, giving way to a more global-scoped practice of design. Moreover this new segmentation will also tighten the bond between engineering schools and business schools through jointly run curriculums. Because design is a technical activity fundamentally grounded in graphic representation and handcraft no other training course will be in a position to claim to be able to train operational designers in a few weeks time. Merging design education with other training courses could result in depreciating the very job-title “designer” because this label would be used to refer to activities other than design. A true designer is a professional who masters specific skills and a very unique technical know-how.

Education institutions are also going to implement exemplary sustainable development policies. The recent signing of the Cumulus Kyoto Declaration by all Cumulus Network member schools shows how committed institutions and designers are. Schools must strive to grow into some kinds of idea labs where projects would be conducted with a view to setting up a conception-based marketing to be implemented prior to any market creation.

To finish with I would say that there are two ways to consider globalization and the emergence of newly industrialized countries. The first point of view equates challenging and questioning our whole economic system; it has resulted in a bottomless economic crisis. The second one opens up doors to new gigantic markets. Today all designers must busy themselves with adapting products to the Chinese, Indian, Brazilian markets… This opportunity will probably trigger new reflections about identity issues and how to make a difference. In this overwhelming global market where cultural standardization based on a shared bastardized lingua franca looms on the horizon, the identity of creation takes on a revolutionary depth. Economically and socially speaking designers must strive to make sense out of differences, because differences are what makes Humankind so complete and plentiful.

4 thoughts on “Design Education and Globalisation : the New Deal (PartV) – The need to adapt curriculum to a shifting context

  1. 1. Innovation for more business? Or innovation for the improvement of the every day.
    2. Opening walls between disciplines seems to be hindered by the curriculum system in design education. Maybe the best design schools will not be called ‘design’ schools but schools for people.
    3. Agree, contextualization has been badly missing from most design education. Kyoto declaration and change of hearts is the right direction.
    4. Sense out of difference and localization. The only profession that can look out for the ‘analogue’ in future production is designers (or I would like to call them romantic entrepreneurs).
    You are ready for your London Conference Speech?

    1. 1. “Innovation for more business? Or innovation for the improvement of the every day.” Both, at the condition than we pass from an economy of consumption to an economy of contribution. We have to replace the economical development at the service of “Human being”.

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  3. I just read all the five parts, and I have to say I agree on almost everything you said.

    I´m very interested on those themes, education (as I´m a student) and globalization, as everything is turning global. It is quite interesting to see that the issues you are exposing apply to my country (Costa Rica), a developing one, so it proves (at least to me) that we are in a global world.

    At the school I´m studying right now (BA in product design), we had a curriculum change last year, a very accurate one, we went from skill and talent centered courses to project managerial ones, also they include a strong engineering methodology to gave us a new way to approach solutions, but keeping that human-centered essence and aim for making a better tomorrow. This new approach is still starting, and it has flaws, but I hope that we the next generation of design professionals will get the message you are trying to give us. For my part I have to say message received.

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