Strategic Questions for Design Education for Sustainability

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Claes, Merel; O'Rafferty, Simon; O'Connor, Frank
Section: Sustainable and Universal Design
Page(s): 349-353


The world we live in is in a dynamic process of social, environmental, political, economical and infrastructural change. The educational system can prepare future professionals for operating in this changing world. Over the last few decades, changes in social and environmental systems have become more visible and it is acknowledged that these changes jeopardise the future flourishing of society. Sustainable development has been identified as actions to counteract these threats to society. Education should prepare people for sustainability, therefore it should be embedded within and across all forms of education. Design education has a high potential to contribute to sustainable development because design education provides students with creative capacities to solve complex issues. Businesses are urged by policy and the public to provide eco-innovations and social groups, social enterprises and businesses express a rising interest for social-innovation. Due to this rising demand, sustainability has been implemented in curricula from programmes on environmental, social and policy sciences, however despite its potential, design education lags behind. This paper aims to facilitate a discussion on strategic developments in design programmes as they relate to sustainability. It will do this by framing creativity and design in the context of sustainable development and education, followed by the formulation of provoking strategic questions on good practice in sustainable design education. These questions will cover societal, policy, institutional and individual levels of sustainable design education. A framework will be provided to facilitate a round table discussion where new paradigms on sustainable design education can be expressed. The paper is based on recent original research conducted by the Ecodesign Centre on international good practice in sustainable design education. This research incorporated a series of semi-structured interviews with design educators and produced recommendations for a European research funding council. The paper is aimed at policy makers, research funders, senior academics and design educators.

Keywords: sustainability discussion strategic

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