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A closer look at listening: interdisciplinarity and the varieties of languages employed in the conveyance of problem and solution

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This paper explores the possibilities for incorporating into higher education graphic design pedagogy a more interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to all phases of problem solving, from project identification and framing to concept development and evaluation. In this paper, interdisciplinary is explored from two approaches: a theoretical/methodological framework, and an applied case study. The theoretical foundation of this paper draws upon the progressive (and some would call, revolutionary) Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. More than just a tool for the classroom, the RE Approach suggests to us a comprehensive view of education and community building that is truly interdisciplinary: incorporating current understandings about brain research and psychology with politics and philosophy.

The applied example provided is a case study of a charette presented to graphic design students by a graphic designer and climatologist, providing students the opportunity to hear the languages of two very different disciplines: science and design. This paper provides a theoretical foundation for the framing, presentation and evaluation of a project based on an interdisciplinary model, and concludes with both suggestions for further directions, and questions about limitations and possible conflicts.

Keywords: dialogue; interdisciplinary; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor of Graphic Design, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. 2: Deputy Director for Outreach, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth, The University of Arizona, Tucson.

Publication date: August 21, 2008

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  • How can art, design and communication aid teaching? Do these teaching methods work better in certain fields of study? Focusing on arts and media-based subjects, and encompassing all areas of higher education, this journal reveals the potential value of new educational styles and creative teaching methods.
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