A 3D “T-shaped” Design Education Framework

Part of the Arts, Research, Innovation and Society book series (ARIS)


The radically changing social and economic context of innovation calls for a shift in design education. This article argues that cultivating “T-shaped people,” characterized by the integration of both vertical and horizontal capabilities, should sit at the heart of design education that is geared toward innovation. Based on the prevailing Undergraduate-Master-PhD educational system, a 3D T-shaped educational framework is proposed. The curriculum planning practiced in the College of Design & Innovation (D&I) of Tongji University is adopted to illustrate several core considerations of this framework. These includes: breaking the rigid barriers between disciplines, developing new modes of design education by integrating and restructuring the knowledge arising from distinct areas and disciplines, and facing complex and diverse real world challenges. The authors attempt to use this framework as a hermeneutic tool to explore possible approaches to foster design innovation talents. This is further facilitated by relating individual 3D T-shaped models of distinct disciplines toward the idea of a Knowledge Cube.


3D T-shaped Design education Vertical knowledge Horizontal knowledge Interdisciplinary 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Design and InnovationTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Institute of Environment for Sustainable DevelopmentTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

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