Design Education: A Weapon for Money, Power

Thank you for keeping a clear voice for design and its future.

About the question on your September 2003 cover [on sustainable design education], whether we can “still teach it all in just four years,” the answer, as it always must be, is No, No, No! If courses were 14 years long, we still could not achieve that goal.

The purpose of education is not to clutter students’ minds with all that we know—and fear—but to impart to future professionals and practitioners the basic concepts and fundamental principles of our art, science, and craft in the shortest time possible, so that they will be able to show society the fundamentals of what they know and confidently lead us into an unknown future.

The idea that design educators might know more than just a small part of what there is to learn is an indicator of the complacency which has taken root and helped cause stagnation and perceived perpetual crises in education. Susan Szenasy’s column, “Educating the Citizen Designer,” mentions that the acrimonious turf war between architects and designers is not helpful. The other war heating up among the various interior design disciplines also has doubtful benefit to the public as non-profit design associations try to eat each other’s lunch through political rivalry and tangled legislation.

Design education has now become one of the weapons in an ongoing battle for money and power. Until that warfare is put aside, we are likely to see little real progress and a lot of fashionable posturing and band-wagoneering in design—to our great shame.

Michael Colgan, MBA, IES
Executive Director
The Hawaii College of Design

Categories: Design Education