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Sustaining Ambiguity and Fostering Openness in the (Design) Learning Environment

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Knowledge economies possess a number of key characteristics that require designers to work and cope with the growing occurrence of unpredictable scenarios. To mindfully engage in an uncertain world, student designers must develop critical thinking, social interaction and the ability to manifest design in a diversity of professional and industrial sectors. They need to develop the ability to equip themselves with the skill of sustaining and renewing knowledge throughout their careers. This demands that design extend its teaching beyond revealing the origins and nature of design to include skills of interrogation, which allow individuals to challenge existing and established theories and practices.

The intention of this paper is to articulate a teaching and learning philosophy for contemporary design, and exemplify practice through design projects and skill development from one postgraduate design programme. It discusses the philosophy of mindfulness and refers to the activities of rhetoric and visual thinking as means of nurturing communication of the designer's thinking. The nature rather than the content of teaching and learning is of key concern, and as such the practicalities of teaching and applying mindful learning are referred to but purposefully not described, analysed or argued for. In closing, a new strategy for design teaching and learning is proposed.
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Keywords: designer's thinking; dialogue; mindfulness; rhetoric; visual thinking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Dundee, Scotland.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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