Mapping the journey: visualising collaborative experiences for sustainable design education

  • Muireann McMahon
  • Tracy Bhamra


The paradigm of design is changing. Designers now need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to participate in the global move towards a sustainable future. The challenges arise as Design for Sustainability deals with very complex and often contradictory issues. Collaborative learning experiences recognise that these complex issues can be addressed with the pooling of diverse knowledge, perspectives, cultures, skills and tools. Unless, however the process of collaboration is explored in detail, the opportunity for reflection, learning and improvement is lost. This paper proposes that by introducing and analysing collaboration within third level design education, the capacity for responsible design practice can be developed, leading to a transformative shift in how designers are taught as students and subsequently practice as professionals. Over two multidisciplinary projects devised and undertaken by design students from the University of Limerick (Ireland), Hogeschool Utrecht (Netherlands) and Virginia Commonwealth University (USA), the collaborative path is mapped and critical junctions identified. From this process of mapping and visualisation, collective narratives of the overall project experience are constructed (through the eyes of the participants and planners). This leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of the benefits and limitations of the collaborative experience.


Product Design Design education Collaboration Design process 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.Loughborough Design SchoolLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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