The next generation of designers will require a deeper personal, social, and cultural connection to their work. Design education will need to structure opportunities for students to develop deep, first-hand experience, engage empathetically, and cultivate broad understanding.
In order to integrate sustainability into our current educational programs, we need to empower students to initiate, direct, and become stakeholders in real-world design challenges. Design education is shifting from traditional pedagogical structures, where a professor prepared assignments for students to illuminate and reinforce aspects of the course curriculum. Historically, students would solve these faculty-generated “design problems” in a manner that fulfilled a series of prescribed and predetermined learning outcomes. While this approach may still have value in some areas of the curriculum, faculty are looking for more ways to engage students deeply in the underlying content and to connect them to the broader context of design decisions.
As we meet curriculum needs, we must also embrace networks for knowledge-sharing, open-access, and collaborative processes. The future of design education requires that students learn within multi-disciplinary and experiential frameworks, act collaboratively, and think broadly, deeply, and critically. Sustainability is a natural characteristic of this systems approach.