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Creating New Identities in Design Education
Hannah Rose Mendoza, Claudia Bernasconi and Nora M. MacDonald

An international education opportunity has been created for design students at West Virginia University. This experience is unique because it takes an interdisciplinary approach to design that exposes students to the idea of a larger design methodology common todesign professions. Students take core courses with students from a variety of design fields, including interior design, fashion design, fashion merchandising, landscape architecture, art, and graphic design. Through this interaction, students gain an understanding of the interrelationships among design fields, learn to appreciate new perspectives, and begin to appreciate the place of their fieldas part of the design community as a whole.

JADE 26.3 (2007) © 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 NSEAD/Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Introduction This article explores the ways in which the intersection between an Interior Design programme and other design disciplines: (a) creates new learner identities, benefits our students, and advances the field in terms of the first threefundamentals delineated by the American Society of Association Executives Foundation (ASEA) report; and (b) engenders beneficial discourse regarding how this model can be applied to other educational systems. This article engages in a feminist critique of existing epistemologies that value the control of knowledge dissemination by single sources as the method towards establishing appropriate authority. Weinstead advocate that knowledge is a process that transcends boundaries and explore the benefits of shared knowledge creation as a stepping stone towards inclusive communal validation. The design community exists as an entity whose boundaries constantly are defined and refined as a result of interactions or intersections with its own members and with members of other agencies. These intersectionsare a necessary part of defining the design entity, as both the community (as agent) and the other (as context) are created simultaneously as boundaries are drawn [1]. Through continuing interaction, all ‘living systems incorporate elements of their context into themselves, such that the product of their process is their own self-organization’ [2]. It is the quality of those interactions thatdetermine the strength of the community as an agent. As Claudio Magris said, ‘every identity is also a horror, because it owes its existence to tracing a border and rebuffing whatever is on the other side’ [3]. If we do not seek new information, intersections and interactions outside of our discipline we lose valuable assets in the struggle to confront that horror. It is through these intersectionsthat ‘we learn to look at what we previously took for granted from a different perspective’ [4]. Theoretical framework Interdisciplinary programme opportunities are important given the struggles for recognition in which many design professions are engaged in academic and professional communities. Domi-

nance and recognition achieved through conquest and control is historically a masculineapproach [5]. A feminist critique of interdisciplinary education encourages questioning the dominant methodologies and techniques of validation. Interdisciplinary collaboration and the opening of boundaries between design professions results in a stronger collective value placed in each profession than can be garnered through closing boundaries and drawing lines around territories. This project can beviewed as a feminist critique of the territoriality involved in much of academia and an alternate approach to programme development in design fields. We do not subscribe to the idea of restrictive fields of knowledge which thereby prevent access to others. We argue that the collective mapping of interrelated knowledge territories creates a stronger framework based on inclusive internal validation...
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