Honours is an intensive year that requires students to develop advanced disciplinary knowledge, high-level research skills and demonstrate these competencies through completion of an independent research project (Manathunga et al., 2012). It is often seen as a very discipline specific pathway to further academic studies. Through providing multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural learning experiences however, the skills gained in an Honours program can be applied to direct work-ready skills, thus offering alternative career opportunities beyond the traditional academic pathway. In our Creative Honours program at the University of Canberra, we have a focus on enhancing Cultural Intelligence (CQ). Cultural Intelligence can be defined as an individual’s ability to function in various cultural contexts, and comprises a set of capabilities that include metacognition, cognition, motivation and behaviour (Wood and St. Peters 2013, 561). Strong CQ skills are seen as an asset in many fields but particularly in the arts where career paths do not always have a strictly defined skill set and often rely on graduates to be flexible and adaptable to many varied work situations (Haukka 2011). To foster and enhance employability skill sets such as CQ, we have set up a multi-disciplinary study tour to China in which Australian students from varied disciplines such as Creative Writing, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Media Arts, and Cultural Heritage collaborate in a series of workshops with Chinese students from a similar range of disciplines. Through an analysis of one of the workshops presented during this tour, the paper aims to show how multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural experiences can foster work-ready graduates and can therefore be a key part of an Honours program in creative arts and design disciplines.
About the author
Assoc. Prof. Lisa Scharoun (University of Canberra)
Lisa is the co-founder and leader of the Cross-Cultural Design Lab and an Assistant Professor in Graphic Design at the University of Canberra. Her research and teaching focus is on global graphic design strategy and understanding the impact of international design study tours on employability. She has exhibited her design, photography and fine-artwork in the United States, UK, Australia, China and has won numerous international prizes for her work. Lisa is also a board member for Design Canberra.
Dr. Fanke Peng (University of Canberra)
Fanke is the co-founder of the Cross Cultural Design lab and course convener of Fashion at the University of Canberra. She is an interactive media designer and researcher who has been involved in many research projects in the UK including: Technology Strategy Board (TSB) project: ‘Monetising Fashion Metadata and Fashioning Metadata Production Tools,’ Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) project: ‘Research in the Wild,’ and an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded cross-disciplinary research team on ‘Past Present and Future Craft Practice.’ Fanke is also a board member of CraftACT.
Dr. Bethaney Turner (University of Canberra)
Bethaney is the Convenor of the Bachelor of Arts and Design (Honours) degree in the faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. Her current research explores how more sustainable urban living behaviours can be developed and fostered in a time of human-induced climate change. Her work draws on multidisciplinary research methods and cross-cultural perspectives.