Animating sustainable design-interdisciplinary education methods for students and professionals. Keynote lecture
Start date: 22 September 2008
The privilege of a designer is that of being the ‘user advocate’ in the New Product Development (NPD) process or in the development of Product Service Systems (PSS). They also have an opportunity and responsibility to advocate for the traditionally less considered stakeholders in the process, society and the environment. The designer or engineer can not effect changes in this process without effectively communicating and collaborating with other disciplines on the sustainability focus. Design has merges the practicalities of engineering technology and business with the subtle elements of interface, social concerns and aesthetic desire. This is currently achievable in most products and service systems, but without sustainability at its core, neither design, engineering nor technology have the ability to do much more than continue to add to the sociological and environmental difficulties of the 21st century.
Designers & engineers along with other disciplines seem finally to be awakening to the challenges of sustainable development. Educators and students alike are keenly aware of the need to become more effective in the training and practice of their specific disciplines with respect to sustainability.
In the past five years since this research has developed there has been a marked change in the mass market appeal for sustainable products and services. However we are still seeing a slow implementation of sustainable design practice from both recent graduates and also innovative Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at a local level.
Educational models have been developed over the past 50 years which endeavour to capture the process experiential of learning (Kolb 1984) and engage students with higher level learning outcomes (Bloom 1956). It is from these foundations that the learning and teaching strategies described were developed. The animation of sustainable design thinking is critical, it allows for a holistic application of the knowledge skills and competencies of the learner in the marketplace and in the manufacturing field.
This current research qualitatively assesses appropriate methods for educating in sustainable design thinking for SME (Small & Medium Enterprise) employees, undergraduate design students and design professionals. The study groups include design students from various design courses around Ireland and a sample of SME professionals in the South East of Ireland along with specific participation from students of design, marketing and business at the Institute of Technology Carlow, Ireland. Past and current levels of understanding of students and SME professionals and Design professionals of key environmental issues are measured. Methods for the animation and improvement of undergraduate courses and Continued Professional Development (CPD) programs are discussed.