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Elastic minds? Is the interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary curriculum equipping our students for the future: A case study

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This article takes a snapshot view of interdisciplinary design curricula through an examination of the multicultural, design postgraduate portfolio in one multidisciplinary university in the United Kingdom. It looks at how we are equipping our future designers/teachers to experience interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary professional practice. Many design courses, especially at postgraduate level, now consist of shared studio-based modules across a range of disciplines. For some, this may have been influenced by small student numbers in individual courses and an expediency of resources, but for many this has been a philosophical move to equip students for the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary world they are inhabiting. This small case study looks at a cohort of postgraduate students who through their MA course are undertaking and sharing interdisciplinary studio modules, with other design MA students alongside a multidisciplinary PG certificate in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education. The study highlights the synergies and tensions between professional practice and design pedagogy through the experiences of a student group made up of professional designers who are already working in multidisciplinary professional fields. It records, through questionnaires and interviews, their experience of projects where they are balancing the roles of professional designer/ teacher/student. It examines the multidisciplinary nature of the curriculum and asks students to comment on their experience of working in an interdisciplinary environment and to articulate how/whether their experience on the course has influenced their approach to both their pedagogic studies and outside professional practice.
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Keywords: design education; design practice; group work; interdisciplinary; multidisciplinary

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Kingston University

Publication date: 2012-04-03

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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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