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Sustainable design education: learning strategies for multidisciplinary education of undergraduates and professionals.\ud

By Adam De Eyto


The concept of sustainable design as a specialism within design, business and manufacture is not a new one. Writers and educators such as Victor Papanek (Papanek 1971) and\ud Buckminster Fuller (Fuller and Snyder 1969) were advocating a change in the way we taught students how to design and look at the world in which they live. In parallel with this, many other experts (Carson 1962; Lovelock 1979) were highlighting the difficulties being caused by\ud industrialisation and global trade in the natural environment. Issues such as the dramatic impact of the global population on ecosystems; the strains on the global and local economic systems and the challenges meted by social inequity were starting to be raised by scientists,\ud economists and even designers as early as the 1960s. These are now finally accepted as real problems for today's students and professionals and for the world as a whole. They now provide clear opportunity both to graduates and to businesses as fields in which they can provide and develop expertise with a view to mitigating past and future problems. This research grew out of an opportunity to examine how students and professionals learn to\ud contextualise their design training through a sustainable design lens. Over a five year period from 2004-09 the research sought to evaluate how the learner understands and· applies their knowledge and skills and to begin the process of developing a sustainable design mindset.\ud Through the development of a series of case studies the research goes on to develop learning strategies that can assist the learner to work in a multidisciplinary environment and to develop a sustainable literacy with their colleagues from non design disciplines.\ud The work outlined here deals with how undergraduate students learn about sustainable design in a studio based environment over an extended period. It looks at the use of elearning, multidisciplinary project work, live projects and the mixing students with professionals all through the vehicle of sustainable design. The research also develops a number of strategies for assisting both SME (Small and\ud Medium Enterprises) and practicing design professionals to learn about sustainable design. These strategies encourage the professionals to look at sustainability in a holistic manner and to develop a personal understanding about how it can influence their business and their design practice.\ud The principal research question is: How can the third level effectively educate students, SMEs and professionals in sustainable design so as to be able to apply their knowledge, skills and competencies to design and industry practice in an effective manner within a complex and rapidly changing world paradigm? This body of research is a first comprehensive comparison of how undergraduate students, SME professionals and design professionals learn about sustainable design. It develops a number of learning strategies and proposes a sustainable design learning model based on the findings of the applied research.\u

Topics: edu, des
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