2.9 CONSEQUENCE FOR DESIGN EDUCATION
What is the consequence for the pedagogical framework within design education? This thesis doesn’t give an answer as to the specifics of what should be adjusted or changed in the curriculum itself, since these differ very much from academy to academy.
This research shows four elements that are important to consider. First the academy should educate for expert designers with an ecological mind-set; ecology should be in the DNA of design. On top of this it requires for the academy to open up to ‘the others’; to society. And they should play a vital role in supporting learning networks in co-creation with society. These learning communities could be regarded as a form of city lab (or be inspired by it). Lastly the pedagogical framework ‘learn to unlearn’ gives shape to the critical framework and should be implemented into the curricula.
These elements can’t be developed within a design educational system by simply adding them to the current curricula. This requires a drastic adjustment of the current situation. ‘Ecological Literacy in Design Education.’ (Boehnert 2015) and ‘Design Activism: beautiful strangeness for a sustainable world’ (Fuad-Luke, 2009) described the unanswered ability of academies to include ecological literacy in the current curriculum.
First, design education has a responsibility to educate students that have ecology integrated into their future design practice. Ecological literacy should be in the DNA of design academies. According to Boehnert, design education has a “responsibility to ensure that students graduate with an understanding of the consequences of unsustainable design and the skills to do something about it. … This task will only be possible when supported by ecological literacy.” (Boehnert, 2015, p.1) There is a friction between the urgency of ecological literacy and the lack of implementation in design education. Implementation still remains very marginal. Boehnert claimed that is still the case. “Since ecological learning disrupts and challenges educational cultures and assumptions about what constitutes good design, there has been institutional resistance to the idea…” (Boehnert, 2015, p.1) This notion is also described by Fuad-Luke. “There is a growing need for new design heroes and heroines to provide some guidance to meet the enormity of the scale of the environmental, social and economic crises in the global, and regional/local, economies. … the silence from wider design education and practice communities is notable.” (Fuad-Luke, 2009, p.49-50)
Second, design education does not recognize the implications of ecology as a wicked problem, because this requires a different implementation. Ecological literacy cannot, as Boehnert argued, be implemented “in a token ‘green week’ fashion. Nor is it adequate for ecological literacy to be an elective that staff and students can decide to ignore.” (Boehnert, 2015, p.1) The complex nature of ecology means that it has an impact on various scales and levels within design education and subsequently demand implementation on all these various levels.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” (Buckminster Fuller)
Ecological literacy should be in the DNA of future design students. Implementing this requires changing the current system on various levels and scales. This inability of design education to ‘act’ raises questions: can the ‘learning network’ (city lab) catalyse a change regarding this from the outside in? Could the lab be a supplement to education in which implementation of ecological literacy can be experimented with? Should education unlearn behaviours and habits that are embedded into the current design curriculum?