Fiona Hall titled her latest exhibition for the 2015 Venice Biennale ‘Wrong Way Time’ in her belief that the world has ‘descended into a time that’s somehow gone the wrong way’. (Hall, 2015) Although in an art and design education, one can’t expect to deliver a curriculum that can rectify contested global issues but it can arm students with the skills and attributes to institute change not only through project work but by embedding a purposeful resolute outlook.
This paper will describe what prompted a design program to establish a culture of care as a lucid position and underlying pedagogical tenet. While the notion of care can be considered simplistic even feel-good, it is in this instance, a loaded concept that extends beyond a moral high ground in triggering students to not only care about others, themselves, the environment and their work; but as an ethical responsibility. .By initiating a greater emphasis on community engagement projects with difficult situational contexts, students can fuel their sense of purpose, production and accountability as designers. This attitude accords with Tom Spector (2001) who states that design can be more ‘fundamentally informed by the dilemmas of the human condition not just in its consequences but throughout…the ability to design becomes more closely aligned with personal development than with mechanical skill’.
Further, for the educators and discipline, this philosophical paradigm shift to situate learning as a propositional, perceptive and responsive undertaking affords a platform for cultural change and heightened meaning. This provides a real contextual engagement as a counterpoint to a hyperactive world distracted by digital connectivity.