Sustainable Design Masters: Increasing the Sustainability Literacy of Designers

Micklethwaite, P. (2022). “Sustainable Design Masters: Increasing the Sustainability Literacy of Designers.” Sustainability 14(6), 3255. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063255

Abstract: This paper examines student learning in the Master of Arts in Sustainable Design course at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University London. It considers what designers learn, how they learn and where they learn, in a postgraduate course that seeks to enable them to direct their practice towards sustainability by increasing their sustainability literacy. The paper reviews the learning experiences of students, and the curriculum structures and approaches used to serve those experiences. The story of the course is told here by the course leader of ten years, using student outputs to illustrate the argument made for a sustainable design pedagogy. The key principles of this pedagogy are (1) sustainability is a social, not just an environmental, agenda; (2) sustainability presents us with ‘wicked problems’, which have no right or wrong answers; (3) sustainability-directed design practice arises from the sustainability literacy of the designer; (4) sustainability derives from mindsets and worldviews, not just methods and materials; and (5) sustainability is an emergent property of systems, not a quality of products. This combination has generated a distinctive model of postgraduate sustainable design education, which seeks to equip students with a ‘mastery’ of how to put into practice their own visions of sustainable design.

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