What’s a master in codesign/design anthropology?

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We have an idea for a new two-year master program in codesign and design anthropology at KADK that we would like to share. The idea is formulated in this draft description of the MA program and any comments, questions and suggestions to the proposal are welcome.

Last Friday the 21st of June we had a pretty special opportunity to discuss our proposal with, should we say, core stakeholders: students! They all had particular interest in the area of codesign or design anthropology and comprised previous students now working professionally, current students, and potentially coming students.

Some students embraced the idea of tackling so profoundly complex issues that no one design specialization, such as graphic design for example, could ever be enough to address it. And thus we were encouraged to pursue the idea of a trans-disciplinary design approach.

But on the other hand, codesign might sometimes over-inflate and pretend to cover all the school’s design specializations at a high crafts level. Which for good reasons make some students a bit nervous: what kind of support for advancing one’s mastery of particular materials or media, such as print, wood, metal, ceramics, electronics or video, will actually be available in this new master program? A competent graphic designer who has spent most of her graduate level studies addressing codesign issues, put it pretty clearly:

“I have not become a better graphic designer during my graduate level studies!”

Long pause.

“I have become a better designer. And that is because of the codesign approach.”

Some of the design programs around the world that we take inspiration from, and whom we consider part of our network, although they do not feature a distinct codesign profile, is Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons, Interaction Design at Goldsmiths, Interaction Design at CIID, Interaction Design at Malmö UniDesign Anthropology at Swinburne, and Design Ethnography at Dundee.

Over the summer vacation we will continue thinking about exactly what tools and materials every codesigner should be trained in, for sketching new opportunities in different materials and scales, and at the same time how students can be supported in honing the skills they already carry with them from other specializations.

I think a focus on fieldwork, video, and print is beyond discussion. But what should the status of wood and metal tools be? 3D printer? Laser cutter? Arduino or other interactive electronic prototyping kit? Other?

By the end of August we are to submit the proposal to the school management, who will decide whether to continue with it or not. Don’t hold back if you have opinions to share!

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About Joachim Halse

I work as an associate professor and enjoy teaching, supervising and researching co-design issues.

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