Squeezing a right-hand foot into a left-hand shoe


The push to embed creative thinking and innovative design practices into all aspects of business activity—whilst simultaneously strengthening existing and fostering new “Creative Industries”—has been a hallmark of government policy in Australia and the UK for the past ten years. It is the newly defined creative and knowledge economies that are seen by both governments as the way forward in competing with the rapidly expanding and highly competitive manufacturing industries of the developing world. In both countries, significant amounts of money and effort have been brought to bear in establishing creative industries precincts and their associated facilities and in establishing tertiary level art and design programs under the CI banner.

Unfortunately, Australia is failing to follow through in the nurturing and support of these still embryonic developments by inadvertently neglecting some of the very people who will drive them into the future—our present generation of art and design students and their teachers. This has come about through misguided economic policy and a failure by both governments and universities to recognise the diversity, complexity and, most importantly, the very nature of creative research. This paper examines some of the strategies being implemented in the UK to close the gap between design education and research and the needs of the greater economy and suggests several ways in which some of the more relevant methodologies can be adapted and utilised to enhance the valuable work and contribution already being made by Australian art and design schools.

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