New paradigms for real world research: learning new languages

Professor Naomi Gornick, University of Dundee

Learning to Talk
Academic design and industry collaboration has many lasting benefits for both parties. As founder-director of the Brunel University Design Department’s MA Design, Strategy and Innovation programme from1994 to 2001, I sought to establish industry partnerships as a key element in a post-graduate design curriculum. The aim was to create new directions in graduate careers: graduates would use their design skills and understanding of creativity in new professional roles inside client organizations, in order to integrate design thinking into industrial life on a long-term basis.
The focus here is on the particular communication skills required by organisations and acquired by students when working on fully assessed research-based projects in industry as part of their curriculum. The title, ‘Learning New Languages’, was a term used by a student carrying out research in Orange, his internship company.
If we consider that design and management have two different languages and cultures, then industry-based experience for design-trained students could be seen as a vital component of the curriculum. A key element of these projects is to discover how effective communication can be established between the individual, the team and the organisation as a whole.

New departures
In the UK there are now a number of post-graduate courses that attempt, in various ways, to offer a new dimension to the mainstream culture of design education and to respond to current global issues. There is a shift to analytical and contextual work that has a buoyant research output and is an important influence in changing design graduate career paths. This is a recent and developing area of design education, less than 15 years old. What circumstances have created this new departure over the past few years? Changes can be attributed to several aspects including the following:
- Current economic, technological and management changes in industry, creating the need for a broader approach to traditional design teaching
- The requirement for higher degree courses in UK universities and colleges to produce a specific amount of design research at staff and student levels
- The establishment and development of high profile design management teams in large UK organizations such as British Airways. (These teams generally need to include both design-trained and management-trained personnel working in tandem).

All of these factors, in varying degrees, have contributed to the creation of programmes in recognition of the need for a more comprehensive direction in design education. Considerable emphasis had already been placed on the inclusion of Design aspects in Management programmes in Business Schools through the publication of the 1984 report ‘Managing Design — an initiative in Management Education’. In this report, designers’ knowledge of business or management aspects was seen to be adequate. According to Morris and Bruce at UMIST in 1994, however, changes in design education were seen as an urgent priority.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

  • Prof. Naomi Gornick,
    University of Dundee

    New paradigms for real world research: learning new languages 
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