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designers of the future…

October 23, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

Meredith Davis is my new design education hero. She’s smart, and thoughtful and she cares about the future of the profession in a forward-thinking, inspirational way. She is a total visionary. And it seems like she has published, presented, and drawn up the framework for pretty much every major design education initiative that has happened in the past several decades. Designers of 2020 and beyond….thank Meredith Davis first off that your programs were so amazing and enabled you to be the leaders making policy and designing a new cultural lifestyle that we, as mere early twenty-first century dwellers, can’t even imagine .

I first became familiar with Meredith Davis while I listening to a recorded presentation Davis and Ric Grefe (the current executive director of AIGA National) hosted on Undergraduate Educational Outcomes and Competencies in Communication Design. The presentation was basically a discussion on where the profession is headed and how we as educators can empower our next cohorts of students to be better prepared to enter and be a positive influence in the communities they are a part of once they graduate. Design has experienced some pretty fundamental shifts in its short life and we’re in the midst of yet another shift as we move from designers who are primarily concerned with the creation of artifacts to designers who are primarily concerned with the creation of systems.

While I completely resonated with everything that was discussed (and finished the session with warm fuzzy feelings that I am indeed in the best field every because the potential for design to leverage positive change is pretty much unlimited) I couldn’t help also leave the session with a bit of a sinking feeling about my band of distance ed students. Many of my students (and indeed students in distance education settings worldwide) come to school because they want to learn the trade of making practical artifacts because having that skill will allow them to move out of a somewhat grim living situation. Is this new shift in educational practice going to further alienate my distance ed students from their on-ground peers? How can distance ed implement these new theories if the majority of distance ed students are more just looking to learn a trade? Will the future of design contain some sort of split in those who design artifacts and those who design and implement the artifacts into a larger system/campaign?

It’s an interesting time for sure because it does feel like there’s a lot brewing and change occurs so rapidly. But I suppose that if indeed design education is at the early stages of a pretty significant shift in theory, who better better than design educators to wrestle with how the shift will impact not just ground schools but also distance education learning?

You can view the recording in its entirety here.

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