Pedagogy of Design: Studio-Based Design Learning & Curricular Hegemony and Design Education

The RGD is pleased to announce the Design Educators Conference Webinar: Pedagogy of Design: Studio-Based Design Learning & Curricular Hegemony and Design Education.


In 2021, the 5th Design Educators Conference will consist of: 2 Keynote Presentations and 12 Themed Concurrent Sessions. The Conference's 5 themes are: Empower (the learners), Embrace (the classroom), Expand (the experience), Engage (with external participation) and Equity (within all spaces).



  • Pedagogy of Design: Studio-Based Design Learning by Aidan Rowe, U of Alberta

  • Curricular Hegemony and Design Education by Brian DeLevie, U of Colorado Denver

Date: Friday, April 23rd at 1:00 PM ET


Register here


Registrants for this session will also get a link to the recording!


You can check all Design Educators Conference Webinars dates here.


Discussions will place on Discord after the talks!


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Theme: Engage – with external participation


Pedagogy of Design: Studio-Based Design Learning


Presented by Aidan Rowe, University of Alberta
Chair, Department of Art & Design
Associate Professor, Design Studies
Co-Editor, GDC Journal


21st century higher education faces a variety of challenges, shifting contexts and opportunities (and these are even more acute in light of COVID-19). Responding to these changes, academia has integrated new learning and teaching practices to: increase collaborative learning situations; further develop interdisciplinary learning opportunities; and, create quality curricular experiential learning experiences to ground and extend education opportunities.

For example, a 2017 University of Toronto whitepaper entitled Rethinking Higher Education Curricula asserts it will "grow its experiential, work-integrated, and community-engaged learning offerings, and that this growth would collectively enhance both the student learning experience and the University’s ability to support broader community and societal needs." (University of Toronto 2017, 2).


Common across these practices—and other pedagogical advances—is that they are central to design education. I argue that Design Studio-Based Design Learning (SBDL) offers unique teaching and learning practices to non-design areas and in fact can serve as a model higher educational framework.


For example, SBL commonly employs a range of diverse learning and teaching practices including:


  • Problem-focused scenarios learning;
  • The assumption of a critical stance by students;
  • Interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning;
  • Collaborative learning situations;
  • Curricular / co-curricular experiential learning opportunities;
  • Learning through doing: A focus on hands-on creation and making.


While these pedagogical practices are common to Studio-Based Design Learning they are often at the vanguard of other academic disciplines. This presentation documents the benefits of applying Studio-Based Design Learning to other academic disciplines, the positives exposed, and the challenges encountered.


Situating design in a broad sense—and after Simon—as the changing of existing situations into preferred ones we must engage with the edges of our discipline. Interrogating the contexts of, and possibilities for, design education we bring to life potential futures and directions for higher education and practice pushing both towards needed practices in the 21st century.



Curricular Hegemony and Design Education


Presented by Brian DeLevie, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Denver


Historically, IHE’s and design programs have fulfilled and served complementary and contradictory roles. By striving to create missions and curriculums that embrace multicultural paradigms that promote inclusivity,, empathy, IHE’s have produced knowledgeable professionals that serve the economy and as social agents and activists. However, through restrictive entrance requirements and delivering hegemonic pedagogy and curriculum, IHEs and design programs have perpetuated “symbolic racism” that denies existing patterns of racial inequalities and sent implicit messages to minorities about what constitutes valid knowledge, and who are the dominant and subordinate classes. Brian asks: what role does personal, discipline, and institutional biases play in design curriculum decision making?; what can design programs do to actively and effectively challenge hegemonic structures to engage better and promote more equitable and diverse forms of education? and how can design programs create curriculum that recognizes, respects, and uses students’ identities and diverse backgrounds to encourage and support their pursuance and entrance into the design profession?



  • How does design education engage with society, with our student’s lives, with the industry at large?
  • How can we make small changes in curriculum to shed light on student identities and encourage pursuit of their autonomy through their learning experience?
  • How much of design curriculum should be personal, discipline-based or institutional?