THE MASTER OF DESIGN FUTURES EMERGED INTO DESIGN EDUCATION THREE YEARS AGO*
Over that time the program has evolved into what you are now experiencing, and will continue to develop, in large part due to you and your predecessors. As a human centred design educational experience, it is fitting that the program responds to those who inhabit it.
While the MDF will always embrace the liquid modernity that Zygmunt Bauman describes, we also have a firm foundation, rooted in four guiding principles: Live and of the moment; Culture and community; Making a difference; and Design is thinking.
As HCD emerges and shapes itself into a variety of practices such as service design and strategic design, this program is designed to not only observe and study HCD, but to do so from a practice and practitioner perspective.
That means that if there is a choice between a neatly organised program of study and one that represents the messiness of human interactions, we tend toward the latter. That’s not to say we deliberately design in confusion and frustrating processes; but neither do we simplify naturally occurring, complex situations.
Culture + community
At the heart of this program is you and your colleagues. Over the three years since MDF launched, the community of participants has generated a vibrant and inclusive culture of learning.
This is a safe place to explore and experiment with the keen support of your peers. It is a place for curiosity, especially about each others diverse disciplinary and work backgrounds. It is also a place for robust conversations, that shake out the buzz words and tease out the tensions in this emergent space.
To make sure this opportunity is open to everyone, we have a few online protocols:
- mutual respect and constructive feedback drive all conversations in each channel in the workspace
- sharing your ideas and assessment work is de rigueur in this community
- if you have a complaint about the courses or program, raise it first with me on the backchannel (direct message) rather than on the public spaces, so not to squeeze others out with shouty posts :)
- if you have something contentious to say, first let people know you’d like to have a discussion, which can then run on a channel open to those who are interested to discuss it with you
- pause before you press send
We aim to gather each year at least once, to give people the opportunity to catch up and hopefully work together (see MDF Day on Slack). These occasions usually revolve an event such as Service Design Now in May and November. This is, of course, voluntary.
Recently Yoko, Liam, Juliette, Ingo and others in the School of Design (and Business) ran a successful bid to host ServDes2020, which was in Milan this year. The Melbourne conference is titled: Tensions, Paradoxes and Plurality in Service Design, and aims to intensify a critical approach to the practice. We’ll keep you updated on developments and will put out a call for participants as the conference gets closer.
We also encourage you to hook up with MDF colleagues in your town or region. We now have people in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Byron, Adelaide, Perth, Ballarat, Berlin, Hong Kong, San Diego, New Jersey, Jordan and Mumbai(have I missed anyone?). We also comprise people working in service design; other design disciplines such as architecture and communication design; government; education; business; social welfare; future cities; cultural organisations and media, to name a few.
I continue to seek funds for a global intensive (study tour) where we can engage with HCD in other parts of the world. More on this as it comes to hand.
Please feel free to suggest any events, ideas and projects (on- or off-line) that help to build the community and culture within MDF.
Make a difference
We take seriously our unique opportunity to help shape the emerging practices that are based in human centred design. This includes a critical and ethical approach to what we do, who we work with and how we interact with people through design research and practice.
This will naturally be different for each of us, and does not in any way aim for groupthink around design — in fact it is anything but. Nevertheless, the politics of design is not something we avoid. Ethics, gender, cultural awareness, diversity are all addressed through the program.
As we delve more deeply into what Dan Hill calls the dark matter, it is clearly becoming more incumbent on us to understand change and how to effect positive changes — in concert with others — especially those who are directly impacted by our design propositions.
Design is thinking
In this design program, design is the thinking you do and the intelligence(s) you bring to the work at hand. It is not about high production values in visual design or media making. You will not be assessed on those aspects of design. Instead the assessment tasks require thoughtful approaches, thorough and rigorous development, clear communication and critical reflection.
Having said that, we also know that clear and compelling visual, spoken and written communication is potent in articulating the complex issues we deal with. So you are encouraged to develop whatever skills are required, and to work with others to achieve the best results.
The MDF runs over four semesters per year:
- Summer — January: Design Strategy / Research Methods
- Semester 1 — March: Clients
- Semester 2 — July: Contexts / Leadership
- Spring — October: Service Design
Summer and Spring are offered as Flexible Terms in the University.
Design Futures Research Project (The Project — see below) is the Capstone, self-directed course, and is offered under supervision. The Project is available in Semester 1 and Semester 2. It is required that you take The Project as the graduating course within the program, i.e. at the end of your program.
When enrolling look for the MDF Program Code — MC245; and W245 indicates the obline offering. NB: Service Design and Design Strategy are also offered in the F2F Masters of Communication Design. These course are not available to MDF members.
If you have enrolment issues, please contact Academic Service Officers via email@example.com
Please make yourself familiar with the RMIT support facilities such as the Library and Ask a Librarian (online chat); IT Helpdesk (online chat) especially for technical issues and Canvas; RMIT Counselling (currently only F2F); and the Study and Learning Centre.
The Design Futures Research Project is the culmination of your Masters. It draws together the new knowledge you have generated within the program and your existing expertise.
I will post a more detailed description along with some reflections of recent graduates shortly. However, it is worth thinking broadly about this course right from the outset.
The Project is something you design in consultation with us. It takes its lead from what motivates you to undertake the Masters. For some that is to move up in their current workplace; for others it is to make a transition into another job or sectors; and in some cases it is to move into a PhD.
With a rough idea in mind, you can use each of the courses as a lens on what you have planned — some, like Leadership, will allow you to directly work with an aspect of your final Project, others will be more oblique, yet still give you a chance to test your ideas.
Where possible it is useful to take Research Methods early in your program of study. We will discuss all these issues once the semester settles in.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the pace and flow of the MDF and the exceptional people who are working with in this community.
*The Master of Design Futures began in July 2015.
The development of the program was led by Dr Jeremy Yuille, Prof Laurene Vaughan, Prof Martyn Hook and Bronwyn Clarke. It was seen as a future oriented program in design and filled a gap in the design education space.
We are now working on the next iteration for MDF to continue to position the program as an executive design education offering. Watch this space…