Archeworks strives to create a meaningful multidisciplinary educational process that shapes socially engaged designers. Our primary goal: prepare the next generation of designers to push the boundaries of their disciplines and to address social concerns of significant magnitude to benefit the public good.
In keeping with the Archeworks culture of experimentation and reflective practice, we continue to ask ourselves: what could we do differently in the future to keep our educational content relevant and meaningful? In so doing, each academic year, we aim to evolve and strengthen the conceptual framework underpinning our students’ experiential learning.
In the 2011-12 academic year, we introduced a set of four broad themes, or frames, that serve as reference points for students' applied, collaborative design projects. This framework provides structured opportunities for critical thinking and skill building, and informs our core approach of “learning by doing.” Over the course of the year-long program, we dedicated four in-depth class sessions to each of the frames, described below. Additional details about these interactive sessions can be found in the 2011-12 Curriculum & Speakers Overview.
2011-12: Thinking and Doing Frames
Discover investigates several approaches to problem definition for designers working outside of the context of traditional practice. Concerned with the where and how of design intervention, we explore the notion that in formulating a "wicked problem," we have also formulated its solution. Specifically, the content of this frame examines the relationship of research to design, helping students to be intentional in the gathering of information and recognition of patterns. The goal of this frame is to provide students with tools to become self-directed agents of change in a complex environment. We will focus on human-centered research methods and the use of representations (maps, film) to structure a design-research process.
Collaborate allows students to engage with peers and experts in a self-aware learning environment. Through games, discussion, stories, readings, digital media, on-site tours, and demonstrations with design leaders, participants are provided opportunities to try-on various intellectual roles in the collaboration process. Participants experience a range of collaboration styles and in-practice examples through four evening sessions. Each session is based on a theme that addresses a structural motivation or area of the collaborative process: Why Collaboration; Language of Collaboration; Tools of Collaboration; and Environment of Collaboration. During each session we look at the barriers to and opportunities for collaboration, and how our own multi-person collaboration may affect the outcome of our projects. The primary goal of this Frame is to reflect upon different modes and methods for how we work together.
Activate focuses on transformation of the designer from a passive participant — responding to projects initiated by developers, organizations, or individuals — to an active seeker of opportunities to transform communities through design. This transformation recognizes the designer's unique prospective and valuable skills in identifying the potential of a place (particularly forgotten places) and the vision of those with in-depth knowledge of that place. The activate perspective also allows for an expansion of the factors used to evaluate the success of a project, by placing value on building relationships, fostering community involvement and contributing to civic discourse. Each session is based upon one of the following themes: Policy and Design; Design Activism and Advocacy; Design(er) as Catalyst; and How to Think Like an Activist.
Comprised primarily of hands on activities, Do is active education for personal learning opportunities within a group dynamic. Small team structures orient participants towards shared objectives achieved through teamwork along with proper skills assessment and implementation. Humor, among a general outlandish context, is used to provide a cover for everyone to assess the situation at hand and then organically insert their perspective as well as skills in whatever manner they deem fit. For example, if team members are having a good time laughing while building a cantilever toothpick bridge in competition with other teams, they are implicitly negotiating group dynamics towards a common objective, sharing/critiquing design proposals, and communally engaging in the building process. Activities focus on improving skills including critical thinking, analytical problem solving, peer to peer communication, deadline oriented achievement, and public presentation among others. Do is an ecosystem of opportunity for both explicit as well as more subtle, organic, learning opportunities and most importantly, Do means getting to work!