DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Brosens, Lore (1,2); Raes, Annelies (3,4); Octavia, Johannna Renny (5); Emmanouil, Marina (1,2)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Product Design, Ghent University, Kortrijk, Belgium; 2: Design.Nexus, Ghent University, Kortrijk, Belgium; 3: KU Leuven, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Centre for Instructional Psychology & Technology; 4: KU Leuven, imec research group itec; 5: Department of Industrial Engineering, Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung, Indonesia
Section: Meeting 21st Century Challenges in Further and Higher Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.38
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


In recent years, the responsibilities of designers in industry have drastically shifted. One of these developments is that designers are increasingly growing into jobs where they need to facilitate innovation in multidisciplinary teams [1]. Correspondingly, educators advocate for an adaptation of design education in relation to the advances in industry and society [2], [3]. The question therefore is how to design the future of design education, and to what extent can we continue with existing practices when re-modeling education? How can we scrutinise curriculum reforms for developing resilience to the challenging future world circumstances? Traditionally, university curricula are changed by slowly introducing new knowledge through disciplinary research. By researching into and about design, the extent of specialized knowledge grows and alters the content of university curricula. Under this standard practice, programs update one course at a time for the related users (current students and faculty members), but hardly any other stakeholders are involved [4]. Moreover, most curricula reforms are designed at the course or department level and mostly neglect a strategic, holistic, and multidisciplinary approach [5]. By reviewing universities’ practices towards reforming their curricula worldwide, it was found that design programs can in fact benefit from incorporating design research methodologies into those procedures, specifically, empathising, benchmarking, questionnaires, design probes, focus groups, personas, prototyping, and the application of an iterative mindset. In other words, it was suggested that a designerly way of thinking was needed. The term ‘designerly’, articulated in the 1980s by design theorist Nigel Cross [6], hints at the use of design specific ways to know things and find knowledge. Already, Umeå Institute of Design (UID) in Sweden and Aalto University in Finland, utilised this approach to handling their curricula reform by prototyping solutions and making future decisions based on these prototypes [5]. In addition, by implementing a more human-centred approach in which all relevant stakeholders get involved in developing design propositions, this research wants to point out at the potential benefits of a designerly way of developing curricula. By re-considering traditional approaches regarding curricula reform practices, this paper presents recommendations for designing design education to define future university study programs. [1] T. A. Björklund, T. Keipi, and H. Maula, ‘Crafters, explorers, innovators, and co-creators: Narratives in designers’ identity work,’ Des. Stud., vol. 68, pp. 82–112, 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.destud.2020.02.003. [2] D. A. Norman, ‘When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It: The Future of Design*,’ She Ji, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 343–348, 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.sheji.2017.07.003. [3] L. Justice, ‘The Future of Design Education,’ Des. Manag. Rev., vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 33–37, 2019, doi: 10.1111/drev.12159. [4] M. Gibbons, ‘What Kind of University ?,’ Lancet, 1997, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(70)90419-8. [5] A. Valtonen, ‘Designing Universities of the Future,’ DRS2016 Futur. Think., vol. 2, pp. 1–16, 2016, doi: 10.21606/drs.2016.205. [6] N. Cross, ‘Designerly Ways of Knowing : Design Discipline,’ Des. Stud., vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 221–227, 1982, [Online]. Available:

Keywords: Design education, Curriculum reform, Design pedagogy, Future perspectives, Designerly ways


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