Doctoral Education in Design (2003)

RUST, C. (2003) Many Flowers, Small Leaps Forward: debating doctoral education in design Art Design and Communication in Higher Education. Vol 1 No 3 (Invited paper)

Many Flowers, Small Leaps Forward: debating doctoral education in design

A commissioned review for special issue of Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education (Research Journal of ADCHE-LTSN) dealing with best practices in PhD education for design. I was asked to write this review paper by Ken Friedman and David Durling who were guest editors of a special issue of ADCHE dealing with doctoral education. It was a good opportunity to think about the state of the art and clarify some issues for myself as well as the audience.

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As a point of departure for this review I have taken three events in 2000, a time when debate about research degrees in Design seemed to reach a peak. Two were conferences: the Design+Research Conference at Politecnico di Milano and the 2nd Conference on Doctoral Education in Design at La Clusaz, France. The third was a particularly heated online debate by members of the DRS email discussion list during the preceding year.

While these three events by no means define the whole territory they do crystallise some issues which continue to characterise the PhD “problem”. In looking at these events, and the wider picture of research degrees in design, I would like to draw out two themes. The first of these is the different, but complementary experiences of colleagues in many parts of the world who are wrestling with these issues. The second is the problem of a proliferation of ideas, philosophical positions and rhetoric, which is not matched, as yet, by many visible developments in practice. Perhaps this is not surprising since any small development in this context has a gestation period of at least 3 years and could take much longer to move outside the walls of the institution which has fostered it.


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