Notes From the Dean
Parsons the New School for Design’s multidisciplinary curriculum evolves with the twenty-first century.
(page 4 of 4)
Empowerhouse was Parsons’s entry into the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. Students and faculty partnered with Habitat for Humanity and the local government to make their competition entry the first passive house in Washington, D.C.
Courtesy Martin Seck
Rethinking design education required us to approach curriculum development with the same creativity, flexibility, and exploration that we encourage of our students. It also forced us to ask some fundamental questions: How could we accommodate increased breadth without sacrificing depth? Give students more opportunity to explore the urban environment without compromising academic rigor? Provide a flexible array of choices while still guiding them toward a consistent set of learning outcomes? Answering these questions and developing solutions necessitated a different strategy, with faculty from all areas of the school playing a role. Taking our cue from open-source sharing and crowd-sourced information gathering, we’ve made the curriculum a constant point of communication, hosting workshops and forums, and creating shared virtual libraries of instructional resources, readings, and syllabi. It’s an iterative, ongoing process; we call it designing the design school.
This is a crucial time for design education. The issues of our time require that designers focus their talents not just on form and function—the principal obsession of the previous century—but on the interconnections between design and society, and the potential of design as a transformative force. The world has changed; the role of design has changed. And the way that designers are taught to engage with the world must change, too.