About the Conference
If we believe that we constitute a polity of responsible citizens, where sustainability encompasses environmental, cultural, economic, and philosophical considerations, then what and how we teach is paramount to the vitality of global well-being. As academics and professionals, we recognize that the basic skills introduced to students in their first year will constitute the foundation on which all subsequent learning and design skills are overlaid, and from which all other techniques and decisions are constructed in subsequent years. These skills become firmly embedded in the students’ very idea of imagining and making, and comprise the fundamental tools by which they subsequently foster and develop their own personal design philosophy. Each new layer of skills produces new ways of thinking, considering, and imagining, resulting in a re-ordering of what was already there; new growth nourishing and sustaining earlier growth and vise-versa. In the process, all is re-imagined, re-formulated, re-ordered.
Years later, we are witness to the interesting phenomenon of a student revisiting and concepts embedded in her/his foundation year educational experiences in his/her capstone or thesis project. This phenomenon probably results from a natural human desire to return to, or revisit, initial educational challenges, which suggests that formative experiences shape students more profoundly than we may realize. These reflections lead to a number of challenging questions for first-year design educators to ponder, including:
Are we forever prone to work habits, design processes, technologies, and design philosophies that are evident in our first design projects?
How can we make present the real and complex challenges of responsible citizenship in the first experiences of our students?
How does an emphasis on the broad scope of what it means to be sustainable affect students’ design processes and influence the products that proliferate in our visual culture and built environment?
Is there a foundation of a sustainable imagination, a balance at work, in projects that expose specific issues of design collaboration, integrated design strategies, and sustainable thinking?