By Dr Tony Fry (Adjunct Professor)
The Masters of Design Futures program offered by Qeensland College of Art Griffith University, is a major innovation in postgraduate design education. This is so in terms of content, presentation and availability. It has been created because “design, in all its forms, has never confronted challenges of the scale of those now emerging” and “the stakes have never been higher, but neither have the opportunities”.
The program will respond to some of the most pressing problems facing humanity today. Design, in all its guises, cannot of itself solve all these problems, but with transformations it can make a very significant contribution. To realise this potential the program will deliver new knowledge and practices that will enable design to adopt a far more important leadership position.
The content will include exploration of new design practices, the problems they have to address, the strategies required to bring them into use, and the philosophical foundation needed to guide the creation of both new knowledge and action. Central to this philosophy and the total ethos of the program, is the recognition that there is a massive need to design in relation to unfolding circumstances – which is to say that design should be directed at the future as well as the present. This means that the program will engage and expand the idea of ‘sustain-ability’.
The program works with an expanded understanding of design, thus widening the scope of who is viewed as a designer. It is therefore open to a wide range of graduates working in disciplines in, and beyond, design. For recent graduates entry can be via a one semester Graduate Certificate.
While some of the content will be presented in the familiar forms, like lectures, it will also include ‘hothouse’ events that will be intensive learning experiences that confront crucial issues and problems. These events will be challenging, but they will also have elements of fun.
As program leader, I have been at the forefront of new design thinking and practice for many years. As such, I do not work with a rigid division between theory and practice. My track record supports this view. On the one hand, I have written a great deal about design, including several books and taught design in various parts of the world. On the other hand, I have worked across a variety of design disciplines on many major design projects for corporations, government and community organisations; been a member of awards winning design teams; and directed a practice. My experience spans activities in Australia, Europe, Asia, North and South America.
While I will play a large role in the program, there will be many other voices. To give a sense of where I am coming from, and the kind of issues and thinkers the program will work with, a series of statements will be presented. These will be followed by a sample paper and a brief reading list.
Essentially, the program is about the deployment of design to secure futures worth having.
The program, commencing in July 2008, is one year full time (with an additional one semester honours option). It will be a mixture of program work and research.