Ethics in Product Design Curriculum: An example from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design

DS 62: Proceedings of E&PDE 2010, the 12th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - When Design Education and Design Research meet ..., Trondheim, Norway, 02.-03.09.2010

Year: 2010
Editor: Boks W; Ion, W; McMahon, C and Parkinson B
Author: Keitsch, Martina Maria; Bjørstad, Nina
Page(s): 120-125


The scope of design research and practice has successively changed - from a focus on material aspects to a focus on the intangible, from functions to pleasure, from goods to services and values [1]. Due to this development, and in concert with an increasing public concern for the environment, ethical issues are getting more attention than ever in product design [2]. Even if being aware of changes, design curricula are often not able to meet the challenges and opportunities connected with these issues methodologically. This article discusses a didactic approach to include ethics in design teaching in a course at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. The approach is a pioneering one at the school and thus in the beginning phase. It does not focus on ethical design but on how to integrate ethical decisionmaking in design curriculum. However, when fully developed, it can serve hopefully as an education tool which bridges the gap between design and ethics. The authors focus on the conditions, implementations and results to illustrate how this approach works. Following the introduction, the second section of the article describes the background for integrating ethics in design education and examines advantages connected with this endeavour. The third section deals with specific educational requirements, shows the method applied, and the results achieved, here exemplified by some students’ works. The final section reflects about values in the design curricula relating to professional and individual moral obligations by trying to answer questions such as: To which value system and assessment criteria do we refer to? What role do products and services play in value systems and how are individual and/or collective values addressed by designers?

Keywords: Ethics in design education, pragmatic approach, ethical decision-making


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