Building sustainability into design education curriculum

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Conference Proceeding

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In the 21st Century, sustainability is high on the agenda of public debate, so is in education worldwide. The impact of sustainability has prompted some mind-blowing challenges and immediate responses from design education sector and the design community. This paper explores and addresses the concept and pertinent concerns of sustainability and sustainable design and focuses on how it may affect curriculum designing and pedagogical development in design education, especially at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) in Hong Kong.

It is argued that sustainability as an introduction to, and preparation for, design studies (generic and specific) at all levels and all disciplines, and it should draw a good attention. Analysed data from interviews, discussion forums and staff consultation meetings together with the empirical study by the author and co-author as leaders heading programme design and curriculum planning for HKDI’s programme at tertiary level. As a result, a curriculum framework best suits the education in design sustainability has been devised, namely 3ARE. 3 stands for 3 paradigms and 3 also phonetically sound as ‘free’ in Cantonese. The 3 significant paradigms are Immersion, Experience and Commitment. The first ARE is Aware, Rethink and Explore; the Second ARE is Apply, Redo and Empower; and the final ARE is Aspiration, Responsibility and Evolution. The 3ARE curriculum framework proposes learning through building blocks and is freely engaged in planned diverse learning activities. For instance: collaborative projects with the community; discussions and debates; train-the-trainers and competitions in sustainability context. The experience herein reported are the process and progress of redesigning curriculum, the challenges and the barriers. The study reckons that the continue rise in essence of sustainability associated to green life, green business, green economy and green community does not exist in isolations that collects efforts from various sectors are deemed necessary if a sustainable future is our ultimate destination. Yet, education for sustainability in design is imperative for understanding the vital need to care for the business world with deep concern of the natural world.

Source Publication

Sustainability in Design: Now! Challenges and Opportunities for Design Research, Education and Practice in the XXI Century, LeNS Conference, Bangalore, India, vol. II

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