Interdisciplinary: challenges and opportunities for design education

  • James A. SelfEmail author
  • Mark Evans
  • Thomas Jun
  • Darren Southee


We explore the potential drivers for and barriers to interdisciplinary education in design from the student learning perspective. To achieve this, a series of in-depth student interview studies were conducted at two interdisciplinary design schools in the Republic of Korea and the UK. Results indicated both awareness and synthesis of interdisciplinary perspectives across the two schools. However, these abilities appeared more heavily dependent upon individual student attitudes and interests, compared to the programmes of study themselves. Instructor bias and potential integration issues at school and institutional levels were further cited as challenges to interdisciplinarity. However, results also indicated application as a key driver for the acquisition and synthesis of disciplinary perspectives. Students, within the applied discipline of design, responded well to interdisciplinarity when accompanied by opportunities to integrate disciplinary knowledge through application within their own project works. Implications for interdisciplinary approaches to design education are finally discussed together with suggested avenues for future investigation.


Design education Interdisciplinary Pedagogy Learning experience Industrial design Product design 



We would like to extend our thanks to all those students at the DHE, UNIST and LDS, Loughborough University that took part in our interview studies. This work was supported by the UNIST Creative Project Fund 1.150129.01.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Self
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark Evans
    • 2
  • Thomas Jun
    • 2
  • Darren Southee
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Design and Human EngineeringUNISTUlsanRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Loughborough Design SchoolLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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