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New contexts for school of design

The environment of design schools – and of all higher education institutions – has greatly evolved over the past few years. Among all these significant mutations, 4 seem to prevail:

1/ The “globalization” of social and economic issues. Already implemented in more than 70 countries to enable institutions to open their curriculums to foreign students, to share students, teachers and other projects, the “Bologna Treaty” has triggered drastic changes in the organization of schools all over Europe. Education institutions are going to have to adjust to a market becoming global and to make sure they can welcome students from all over the world.

2/ When reflecting upon tomorrow one cannot overlook the issue of sustainable development. The duty of designers is to think up – driven by humanistic values of progress – physical and virtual products for tomorrow. Sustainable development is thus a core issue of design.

3/ Facebook, Wikipedia, blogs and Internet as a whole – all those tools that appear as endless contribution platforms – could totally reshape the way we envision knowledge and consumption. We seem to be evolving from a consumption-based economy to a contribution-based economy in which users are held responsible for the knowledge they produce. This should bring great upheavals in the bond between teachers and students: knowledge will cease to be solely reserved to teachers, and the students’ responsibility will thereby be increased. Even more so that the field of knowledge available to them is now endless.

4/ The recent economic crisis held high the role of designers. The dramatic 2009 financial crisis was but the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg being the need to rethink the industrial model. During the “post-industrialization” era, entire nations turned their back on their domestic industries and called upon emerging countries to ensure profitability. These practices are still common practice. Now we must devise new “re-industrialization” models based on easily adaptable, ever-mutating companies able to change profession if required. Efficiency used to be about improving your know-how, about getting better at what you already knew how to do. But these outdated standards have to be redefined and adjusted to the business world of today. Entire industrial sectors were given away to low-cost countries. In-house designers will strive to shake companies from within and have them anticipate the changes to spark off now to prepare tomorrow.

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