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Envisioning a Pluriversal Design Education



Vestiges of the curricula at the Bauhaus and the Hochschule, Ulm, the former designed in the 1920s, and the latter created in the 1950s, can still be seen in design curricula around the world. These curricula focused on the craft of design and were very tied to large industrial economies. More traditional design curricula born out of the Bauhaus and Ulm, focused on graphic and product or industrial design. The design community has placed several calls to re-imagine a future design education. This contribution shares several sketches of design curricula driven by pluriversal issues, epistemologies and ontologies, and not created as a recreation of what already existed. These explorations were created, over several years, as responses to needs of people in the Caribbean and Latin America. One image looks at design education from people from most ‘vulnerable’ countries, using definitions by the United Nations. Another looks at empowering and liberatory design education, building on critical pedagogy principles of Freire and Shor. A third image looks at a design curriculum through a decolonial lens. A fourth image examines the skills that design education could foster. While a fifth image explores a design curriculum that celebrates a pan- African identity. While none of these sketches is a complete curriculum, each is an invitation to other educators to challenge existing paradigms of design education and to create relevant curriculum for diverse audiences. While these curricular experiments are built around the experiences of people from the Global South, these curricula, based by different epistemologies may also provide some insights into what might be missing from design curricula in the Global North.

Decolonial curriculum, pluriverse, design education

About the Author

Lesley-Ann Noel PhD
I am an Afro-Trinidadian design educator, based in New Orleans. In my work, I focus on equity, social justice and the experiences of people who are often excluded from design research. My doctoral research focused on emancipatory design thinking at a rural primary school in Trinidad and Tobago. I also attempt to promote a greater critical awareness among designers and design students. Deep empathy is a key theme in my classes, where students build relationships across difference before collaborating on design with community partners. My research also highlights the work of designers outside of Europe and North America. My identity is shaped by my ethnic background as an Afro-Trinidadian; my experience as a daughter, sister and mother; and my lived experiences in Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Tanzania, Uganda and the USA.

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