Art and design education in the future?

The China National Emblem's Design, Tsinghua University 1949.
中文: 清华大学国徽设计组成员与各种设计方案合影。
By Tsinghua University via Wikimedia Commons.

OECD Education Director Andreas Schleicher recently claimed that because of the tech revolution, in a near future arts may become more important school subject than maths. I agree with Mr Schleicher on the principle, but also see a lot of challenges in the way we teach arts and design — and mathematics, too. Maybe a better approach would be to find a balance: models of teaching and learning where math and art studies are not competitors but rather learned together.

Inside the art and design education, however, there are many conventions we should reconsider. The fourth industrial revolution is challenging us.

First of all we should have an idea how art and design fields and jobs will be in the future. What kind of role artificial intelligence will play in art and design? How is the role of an artist and a designer in the world of “intelligent design”, where computers are designing or doing at least part of the design? What is the role of artists and designers in bioengineering? How about in the design of robotics and cyborgs?

Cumulus is the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media. As a network of over 280 member schools from 56 countries it is the forum to discuss and put forward new agenda for art and design education. I am right now attending the Cumulus conference in Rovaniemi. So far, I haven’t seen the above questions being very high in the agenda.

Among the art and design educators, the questions of sustainability are considered super important. And they definitely are. Art and design education is already putting forward all four aspects of sustainability: environmental, social, cultural and economical. The questions of fourth industrial revolution are naturally interlinked with the questions of sustainability.

What could we then do, in practice?

I would like to see that the art and design colleges and universities will starat online programs and MOOCs focusing on critical topics related to the technology revolution. This kind of themes are, for instance, data-driven design, AI in design, bits and atoms affecting to each other and design ethics in the time of mass data.

Lets see if we’ll get something started in the conference.

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