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Title: Searching for an alternative vision of design education: institutional understandings, meanings and views
Author: Szeto Sing Ying, Elson
ISNI:       0000 0001 3495 0176
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia.
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2008
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This study has been an explorative research journey in search of an alternative vision to contest the institutional view of Hong Kong design education at the tertiary level. I am interested in broadening understanding by investigating the meanings and views of design to enrich design education. The journey began with two disconnected events. First, hearsay comments made by local industry and the design community challenged the outcomes of design education of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in 2001. The immediate question was: what was PolyU design education and the implication of the comment to its future development? The second event was that the PolyU set up the Design Task Force (DTF) Committee for the investigation into its design education to produce a thorough review to guide its future development in 2002. I anticipated that knowing the Committee's recommendations would shed new light on the understanding and meanings of design education. I have briefly examined design education at the PolyU and the setup of the DTF Committee. The two events seemed to be connected to a new vision of design education. Therefore, I set the study into three phases along the journey. An evolving qualitative research methodology was adopted with the utilisation of grounded theory as the research method. Three tranche of data were collected by means of institutional documents, ethnographical participation, interviews and 'talking to scholars' (literature review). I focused on exploring new meanings of design education with the data. In Phase I of the study, what really interested me was that I did not take a reflexive turn on my experience in design education after graduation. I explored the historical trajectory of government-funded design education in relation to the development of educational policies and the changing needs of industry. Design education was initially conceived as vocational training with the end of supplying manpower to industry under a clear notion of economic development. There were historical needs for adopting a narrow focus of vocational training. However, the institutional understanding of design education did not change during the rapid economic growth of Hong Kong from the 1980s to the mid-1990s. My experience in design was then shaped within the boundary of an economic end while it gained its impressive reputation with a timely supply of needed design manpower. As a consequence, I anticipated that the Committee's recommendations would broaden the understanding by introducing more options for PolyU design education in Phase II. When I conducted an overt ethnographic participatory study in the PolyU, the Committee's recommendations were not as I had anticipated. The outcomes of the study did not answer the research questions. I realised the need for collecting another tranche of data to contest the Committee's recommendations and to shape an alternative vision of design education. By completing Phase III of the study, the alternative vision has illuminated a comprehensive form of design education by conceptualising the meanings of informants and scholars of design education in broader contexts. I discover that the ontology of design is grounded in the natural, artificial and social worlds and materialised in the multiple contexts of making, planning and thinking. Therefore, design education should grasp the salient knowledge of these multiple worlds and their contexts as its body of knowledge for nurturing new design generations. Finally, a theory unexpectedly emerges to shed light on the socially interpreted nature of design education, which is fragile, unstable and changeable. This emerging theory can explicate why design education is subject to non-stop reshaping and reinterpretation. I come to term it the theory of social interpretation of design education.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available