Thinking Through Making Friday, June 8th, 2018

I–Design: Integrated Design Education for the 21st Century

Danilo Bojic, Assistant Professor, Winona State University
Chun Lok Mah, Associate Professor, Winona State University

I–Design develops creative identity through interdisciplinary problem–solving collaboration, entrepreneurial incubation and global cultural experience.

Having in mind the ever-changing discipline of design, especially Designer 2025 trends and the accelerated shifts in contemporary society and culture it is the ongoing mission of Universities to provide an adaptive environment for students and prepare them to take an active part in the global community. This bold goal is attempted to be achieved through a new type of design program called I–Design at Winona State University. The I–Design major is an integrated design program which develops the creative identity through the interdisciplinary problem–solving skills, new media and technology, entrepreneurial incubation, collaboration and global cultural experience. The I–Design program provides students with an up–to–date and adaptive design education. Employing the Design thinking methodology, the I-Design major is developed as an integrated design program that is localized for the WSU environment. As the creative field continues to expand, the program will enable students to become leaders in multiple design-related industries and even their own communities. Students studying design enrich contemporary society and culture by creating unique expressive forms of communication and experiences through a broad range of design careers.

The I–Design major incorporates a concentration elective (mimicking the area of expertise) that allows students to individualize their program with an area of interest. Students may choose from Studio Practices, Conceptual Illustration, Technology and Interactivity, Business and Marketing, Sustainable Design, Community Development and Integrated Studies. Through identity formation and innovative solutions, students develop a strong creative identity through a concentration of cross-disciplinary studies. By exploring integrative thinking students learn to collaborate with creative thinkers from other disciplines to learn strategies, skills and concepts that help increase performance and resourcefulness. Through interdisciplinary studies, students pursue research outside immediate subject areas and incorporate different disciplines into their design studies and individual practices. Students strengthen adaptation to the increasingly global design industry through international exposure in the format of an independent study by fostering personal experience that is substantial and directly immerses the student in a different culture.

Building on a foundation that includes studio and digital art, basic graphic design theory and design history studies, students will leverage traditional studio skills along with modern tools, like professional design software, to gain basic creative and design skills. Once formally accepted into the program as sophomores, students are exposed to advanced contemporary design theory and practices. Design students expand their knowledge and skills and build a professional portfolio through a dynamic and diverse curriculum which includes design history, critical theory, innovative methodology and engaging practices and techniques. Inquiry, research, collaboration, analysis and evaluation are core components of the design curriculum as our students become critical and imaginative thinkers responding to contemporary socio-cultural topics through standard and emergent visual communication forms. Incorporating knowledge from the cross-disciplinary coursework, students learn to use design thinking to resolve challenges creatively and innovatively. The senior experience includes opportunities to develop campaigns to promote community projects, participate in a Capstone Senior Exhibition, and complete internships with local and regional businesses.