Steven F. Freeman

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Background to the research

Improving Design Education in India

page last modified: 11/16/2018

Dissertation research by Darshi Mody

Individuals who are willing to learn about design, or more specifically about what design does, very often start with the definition by Herbert Simon (1969) in his book The sciences of artificial. He writes that design “is concerned with how things ought to be-how they ought to be in order to attain goals and to function” (p.4). The most immediate common interpretation of this statement links the concept of design to that of a solution to problems and sees design approach as a problem solver, an agent for solving problems at all levels, starting from everyday life to those on a global scale (Ezio, 2015). We as designers try to do our best to solve a problem in a way that is unique to us and unconsciously start creating our own style in the process. And then comes a point we realize we ought to share this unique style with as many people as we can. The journey continues…….

National Institute of Design (NID) created in the year 1961 on one such premise for providing a skill-based training that would aid small industries which in turn would help to eliminate the rapid deterioration of consumer goods during the industrial revolution (Eames, 1958). This training center eventually flourished and started providing education related to various academic design disciplines. For many years, NID continued to be the only stand-alone institution that offered design education. The institutions in India mainly fall under two broad categories: public and private. The fundamental difference is that public institutions are overseen by the government in some capacities, whereas private institutions function independently. Currently, there is an excellent momentum in India to enhance different professional sectors within the Indian economy.

In 2016, MHRD introduced National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for areas like engineering, management, pharmacy, and general degree colleges. In 2018 the ranking framework was extended to disciplines like law, medicines, and architecture. In India, the design schools either public or private were not included under NIRF, thereby leaving design students to make choices on their own on choosing one design institution against the other. India can open up a whole new professional sector by raising the caliber of design education, into which college graduates can move as they complete their education. As new roles are emerging in the design discipline at multi-national companies, and other professions have recognized the importance of the design discipline, it is necessary that India thinks about its higher design education sector. Taking a first step in recognizing the gap in the growing demand of designers navigating their places in the business world today.

My guiding research question is: Which are the important criteria or factors a prospective design student should consider when evaluating an Indian design institute or program?


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