Why Design Schools Should Take the Lead in Design Education

  • Jan EckertEmail author
Part of the Springer Series in Design and Innovation book series (SSDI, volume 1)


Over the past decades, we have gained more design literacy in both the educational landscape and in the professional field. As a consequence, more and more actors have become involved in design and amongst them many non-designers. While in business this change has brought up a number of new role models in design, in education instead many programmes such as “Design Thinking”, “Design Management”, “Strategic Design” or “Design Engineering” emerged at schools of management, departments of computer sciences or engineering schools. This change has led to a situation where educating designers it not limited to design schools and designing is a profession not exclusively limited to designers anymore. Within this wide range of actors, it becomes hard to understand who is able to lead the design conversation across different sectors and accordingly who is willing and able to train these leaders. This chapter gives an insight into the development of our new MA curriculum in Design. The main objective of this curriculum is stepping out of the mental model of designers as problem-solvers or authors and shifting the attention towards problem identification and design leadership. As part of the research done during the development of our curriculum a new model, called the Y-shaped-Designer has emerged. The model questions discipline-based learning by complementing the professional profile of designers with what we call “connective competences”—competences that enable designers to transition in a collaborative mode and lead design processes across different professional sectors. The new mental model and professional profile of our future graduates required a series of didactical changes along the curriculum. These changes will be laid out in this chapter by illustrating a couple of didactical best practices that aim at fostering collaboration and collective learning. As a conclusion two concepts emerge as key to how design schools could take back the lead in design education: the fundamental shift from authorship towards leadership in design and the ability to connect and collaborate beyond the design domain.


Design education Y-shaped designer Design leadership Issue-based learning 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lucerne School of Arts and DesignLucerne University of Applied Sciences and ArtsLucerneSwitzerland

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