Some Things should be Universal 24/7: Cultures of care in design education

Jane Lawrence and Andrew Wallace
2015 Conference

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.

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About the author

Jane Lawrence is Associate Head of School: Teaching and Learning in the School of Art Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia. Her research fields are in two aligned areas: one around design pedagogy which is informed by memory, domesticity and the everyday and encompasses analogies between food and design as a mechanism to make design strategies tangible for beginning design students. These realms are also explored and manifested into the production of creative work that is situated in architecture yet employs everyday domestic materials and techniques. Jane’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in both creative and educative forums.

Andrew Wallace is Program Director of Interior Architecture Teaching and Learning in the School of Art Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia. His research fields lie in place making particularly sited within the west end of Adelaide but also generally in examining the effect of private space in shaping the public realm and the role of the interior designer in shaping cities.