Making History relevant for designers: breaking down barriers in the mind and across disciplines

Sim, Jean C. & Blackler, Alethea L. (2007) Making History relevant for designers: breaking down barriers in the mind and across disciplines. In Connected: International Conference on Design Education, 9-12 July 2007, Sydney, NSW.


A new course meant an opportunity to rethink how history is introduced to first year students in four disciplines: architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture. Even the teaching team was drawn widely from QUT staff and practice, and we worked together well, collaboratively preparing program, content, and final delivery. We aimed to make history relevant and interesting to everyone, avoiding the usual errors of deluges of dates or complicated historiographical or design theories. We told stories; we entertained; and we got the students thinking while they were enjoying the ride. The lecture content was structured by themes – simply named (what, when, why, how, who, where, heritage, four discipline specific reviews, and future history) but resonating with complex ideas. Tutorial exercises and larger assessments tied into these themes and encouraged students to get active in thinking and discussions. Getting design students to read and write about their ideas were key targets in this process. Our first delivery of this new unit 'Introducing Design History' in 2006 was successful: students became hooked on history. And the teaching team are still excited about the future and eagerly teasing out improvements for 2007. We know why it worked: the content and delivery worked in tandem. The teachers were enthusiastic and sincere. And the teaching approach was well prepared: providing tutorial teaching guides that ensured a consistency across 16 tutorial groups; providing essays and lecture notes in various media for students and tutors to access in advance; and encouraging feedback from staff and students that helped steer the program during the semester. Keeping it real and vibrant are the recurring goals for effectively teaching history to designers.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 9140
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > History and Theory of the Built Environment (excl. Architecture) (120502)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 27 Aug 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2014 04:56

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