Is Design a Plus? A dilemma of disciplines when implementing design into academic education

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Universities are increasingly implementing design into their education programmes across the humanities, social science, natural sciences and business schools. Through design, it can therefore be argued that academic education is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, implementing design along with the given academic discipline’s traditional curriculum. With design moving into other disciplines and schools of thought, the question arises as to what types of knowledge contribution can be identified and how can the established schools of thought comprehend a new type of knowledge contribution. In this paper, we will discuss an epistemological dilemma that occurred when implementing design into established humanistic education at Aalborg University, which is a problems-based learning (PBL) university. From our empirical observations, having implemented design into the humanistic curriculum, a series of educational dilemmas arose. We therefore pose, and later discuss, the following question: Can interdisciplinary universities with any fair claim expect their students to both create a constructive design contribution as well as a ‘classic’ academic contribution – or should the constructive design itself be acknowledged as a knowledge contribution?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign for Next : Proceedings of the 12th European Academy of Design Conference
EditorsLoredana Di Lucchio, Lorenzo Imbesi, Paul Atkinson
Publication date28 Jul 2017
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-09023-1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017
Event12th European Academy of Design Conference - Rome, Italy
Duration: 12 Apr 201714 Apr 2017


Conference12th European Academy of Design Conference
Internet address
SeriesThe Design Journal
NumberSuppl. 1


  • Constructive design research
  • Design epistemology
  • Design in education
  • Design knowledge
  • University programme


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