Alice Stevens’ professional output

Obligations: Embedding employability through social, ethical and sustainable design

– Published 4th Jul 17

This is an outline of the paper presented at the HEA Annual Conference 2017: Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight

Obligations: Embedding employability through social, ethical and sustainable design:

This year I organised a symposium that took place at AUB in March 2016. The title of the symposium was Obligation. It aimed to prompt designers to consider their own obligation towards social, ethical and sustainable design, and also consider how they might address these global issues within their practice. The focus of the symposium was to share information, practice, experiences and philosophies, and to enable our students to see the potential creative power that they can have in applying themselves to Design for Good. This proposed presentation, titled Obligations, aims to frame this work within a teaching and learning perspective, and to share some experiences within BA Graphic Design that might be useful to others.

There were a number of linked activities that extended the content and ethos of the initial symposium into the teaching, learning and employability within BA Graphic Design. Areas that were explored included making visible the true costs of the design choices we make and suggesting ways that design thinking can encourage individuals to move toward more sustainable behaviour. These themes fed into specific projects on the BA Graphic Design programme. Companies were selected for their ethical or sustainable commitments and students answered industry briefs relating to Good Energy, a renewable energy company as well as 3 Sided Cube, a ‘tech for good’ company.

The symposium at AUB in March 2016, together with the previous one in 2015 have led directly into the development of these student projects. This in turn has generated a broader engagement with the issues around sustainability and Design for Good. Beyond the projects, students at Level 5 and Level 6 on the BA Graphic Design programme have gone on to achieve considerable success in the Creative Conscience Awards, RSA and D&AD. This presentation will show how an initial outward facing engagement with industry and research can feed back directly into student motivation, engagement, confidence, achievement and employability.

The structure of the session will be an oral presentation including examples of student work, two short animated films and a short Q&A session at the end (total 30 minutes). The examples of student work will engage participants and help make the connection between the initial staff research and industry visits directly back into student experience. The proposal links very closely to the conference sub-theme of embedding employability and improving student outcomes, within the Strand of Arts and Humanities. Delegates will be able to see a direct step by step pedagogic practice where industry feeds student projects which in turn leads on to student engagement with industry. The methodology can be implemented across a range of educational contexts to enable delegates to implement the findings in their own practice. The session will demonstrate an innovative approach to directly linking external research to course content to embed employability through social, ethical and sustainable design.

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