Recontextualizing Design Education for Aboriginal Students from Remote Communities as a Strategy to Overcome Their Perceived Estrangement with University Education

Stuart Gluth (Charles Darwin University)
2017 Conference

This paper sets out to explore an approach to generate an effective pathway to higher education, currently not valued by Australian Aboriginal students living in remote regions, perhaps because of inappropriate emphasis on (English language) literacy and numeracy, and the denigration of visual and other arts, and Aboriginal culture in general. For students living in the unique physical and social landscape found in remote Australia to overcome the perceived irrelevance of university education, an approach which provides a more culturally focused knowledge of the potential for design principles would have an obvious attraction.

The paper sets out to determine how a vocational program in Graphic Design in a dual sector institution focused on graphic novels, could take advantage of the rich visual storytelling tradition and to overcome probable language challenges by developing unique design principles, whereby Aboriginal students are able to draw on their own traditional and contemporary aesthetic, reflecting their visual, spatial, cultural and ‘legal’ relationship to the landscape, we aim to explore ways that might allow that to become the basis for their design thinking and visual decision making, by incorporating strategies developed for the successful integration of design history and ‘theory’ with design practice, which could allow Aboriginal students to bring their own aesthetic knowledge as a starting point (even if it’s not verbalizable).


It may also lead to a unique mainstream Australian design practice.

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About the author

Stuart Gluth is a Lecturer in Graphic Design at Charles Darwin University, was previously Studio Head of Graphic Design at the University of South Australia, and is a practising designer, Illustrator, typographer, researcher into the legibility of type and creativity and prizewinning pop-up designer and paper artist. He has conducted workshops in creativity across disciplines, gaining a Teaching and Learning Citation for Teaching Excellence, a University Teaching and Learning Grant and participation in a successful OLT grant to develop an on- line creativity framework. He has exhibited his personal paper work, acted as a consultant internationally in integrating creativity across disciplines and taught in China, Singapore, Korea and remote Aboriginal communities.