Educators and professionals explore new ways to prepare graduates entering an evolving industry at second annual Design Educators Conference

In partnership with Centennial College, RGD welcomed educators from design programs around the world to discuss the future of design education following last week's DesignThinkers Conference in Toronto.

Image: Design Educators Conference speakers Lawrence Zeegan, Annette Diefenthaler and Ellen Lupton speaking on The Future of Design Education panel at DT 2014. 


"It is important to revisit and question what we do as educators," says conference co-chair Derek Lea, Program Coordinator at Centennial College. "We can't let the concept of tenure stagnate design education and hinder our students. We are in a state of flux both as educators and designers. Forward thinkers need to continually speak up to dissolve boundaries and remove redundancies in what we do. By providing an interactive and informative framework with this year's conference we aimed to set a precedent that what we do as professors should be open to discussion and improvement."


The opening keynote for the Conference was presented by Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art, author of numerous books on design and an AIGA Gold Medalist. Ellen explored the complex nature of vision, encouraging delegates to consider alternate methods of perception and introducing more active and engaging ways of experiencing design. 


"Vision is not a passive process; it’s something we actively do, not something that happens to us. As designers, we ask the viewer to fill in the blanks and do the active work of perception.” - Ellen Lupton


Breakout sessions explored teaching strategies, communication tactics and learning opportunities under three themes: Connect, Reflect and Project.


Discussion topics were presented by speakers from College for Creative StudiesEmily Carr University of Art + DesignMcKenzie College School of Art & Design, Michigan State University, Mohawk College, NSCAD UniversityOakland University, OCAD University, Saginaw Valley State University, SUNY OswegoUniversity of Auckland and York University.


For a full list of topics and speakers, click here


The conference closed with a presentation from Senior Design Lead at IDEO’s Design For Learning Studio Annette Diefenthaler, who shared insights from her colleagues and key takeaways for educators relating to the importance of empathy and courage in the practice of design. 


Creative confidence is about believing in your ability to change the world around you. - Annette Diefenthaler 


Next year's RGD Design Educators Conference will be hosted by George Brown College and will take place immediately after DesignThinkers). Check for updates in the new year.