Design Education as a Catalyst for Change

Dónal Holland, Ramia Maze, Alex Milton, Ingrid Mulder, Cristiano Storni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientific

240 Downloads (Pure)


Designers play a role in shaping our world, both literally and figuratively. Human lives are spent interacting with designed artefacts, systems, and processes. From this perspective, designers could be considered examples of Gramsci’s definition of intellectuals: the people who organize society and define or reinforce the cultural hegemony of the dominant class (Gramsci, 1989). If we accept this account, then what role does education play in instilling hegemonic values in designers? And could changes in design education help to foster counter-hegemonies? Put differently, if designers really do shape the world, and if education shapes designers, then could design education serve as a “leverage point” for achieving broad social change? Scholarship in the field of science and technology studies (STS) tells us that the relationship between technology and society is not a simple one: neither pure technological determinism (the idea that technology shapes society) nor pure social constructivism (the idea that society shapes technology) is accurate. Rather, technology and society “co-produce” each other (e.g. Bijker et al., 2012). It seems reasonable to expect that a similar model of co-production could be used to understand the relationships between design education, design practice, and social changes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of DRS 2018 Conversations
Subtitle of host publicationCatalyst
EditorsSharon Prendeville, Abigail Durrant, Nora O’ Murchú, Keelin Leahy
Place of PublicationLimerick
PublisherDesign Research Society
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-912294-36-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeB3 Non-refereed conference publication
EventDesign Research Society International Conference - University of Limerick (UL) and Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) , Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 25 Jun 201828 Jun 2018

Publication series

ISSN (Electronic)2398-3132


ConferenceDesign Research Society International Conference
Abbreviated titleDRS
Internet address


  • Education
  • Hegemony
  • Social Change
  • Science and Technology Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Design Education as a Catalyst for Change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this