Social Issues: Making them relevant and appropriate to undergraduate student designers

Vicky Lofthouse
2013, Vol. 18, No. 2,

Abstract


Sustainable design education is now considered a core
issue for industrial/product design courses, however
research has shown that the predominant focus tends to
be on environmental issues, as social issues are much
harder to tackle. Similarly, social issues are rarely
considered in industrial practice. If student designers are to
become responsible practitioners, they need to be made
aware of social issues that they are in the position to
effect. In order to do this it is critical that students are
encouraged to consider issues which are relevant to their
skill sets and within their sphere of influence. A review of
the literature did not reveal a definitive list of social issues
for designers to consider. In addition to this the majority of
well-known tools used to support sustainable design
teaching in UK/Europe, tend to have an ecodesign rather
than a sustainable design focus. The few which do exist
have their limitations.
The paper reports on the findings of an ADM-HEA1
sponsored project. It presents the latest thinking with
regards to social issues student designers should be
considering. Drawing on a tools analysis and theory review,
a set of Social Issues cards are developed and tested to
determine their suitability for disseminating social issues to
design students. The paper concludes that the tool offers a
design oriented perspective of social issues (which has
not been provided before) and is a valuable resource for
raising awareness about social sustainability in
undergraduate design students.

Keywords


sustainable design; tools; social sustainability; social issues; product design; design education

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