Critical Studies are Dead, Long Live Critical Studies

Julian Lindley, Polly Palmer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The value of a broad awareness of the world through critical studies is well documented and a cornerstone of under-graduate education. Within Product Design this is particularly pertinent as anything which is produced in the real world is automatically analysed and evaluated from current, future and historical perspectives. It is an iterative and continually evolving process. Without an awareness of these contexts designers are in danger of making assumptions and therefore risk the potential of getting it wrong or allowing the user to mis-interpret the intended design value. A developed sense of critical awareness and contextual placement to support design decisions is one aspect of the complex domain that is design. A question arises over the teaching of critical studies; has it been subjected by current pressures to excessive standardisation and conformity? Delivery within a lecture context and assessment in the essay format seem to be the most prevalent form of student response within an under-graduate curriculum. At the University of XXX we have attempted to create a diverse middle ground. The authors apply a variety of approaches from the traditional lecture based learning environment, to embedding within practical studio tasks and out of studio visits and experiences. In the project outlined below, one of several innovative approaches, the introduction of knowledge, evaluation and analysis of artefacts and the synthesis of these supported student projects. Working with YYY Museum the project, displaying the culture of the museum’s collection in a non-museum context, demands the application of critical skills and creative responses. Importantly the deliverables for the project are tangible, supported by a reflective document, which is a creative challenge. Key to this is allowing the students to define their own contexts and the parameters of the project. The project has opened up new perspectives on research, assessment and collaboration in design education and a new paradigm for critical studies in the curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
EventEPDE18: History & Future - Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Sept 20188 Nov 2019


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Student engagement, Critical Studies, Collaboration


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