Redefining the Basics: Making a Case for the Development of a Foundation Level Curriculum in Design

By Rukmini Ravikumar and Amy Johnson.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The challenge of preparing design students to practice and compete in a global marketplace constantly necessitates an increase or re-evaluation of course content in design classes. There is also a startling disconnect in the minds of design students between the use of the practical skill sets acquired in art-based fundamental courses and the mental skill of creative problem solving. Art and Design have shared histories but their futures indicate separate paths. There is a fundamental difference between the definitions, philosophies, and intentions of the two disciplines. This paper presents and examines the impacts of the historical evolution and philosophical differences that has lead many universities to re-examine the curriculum taught at the core or foundation level. In this study the foundation curricula in design from programs that have taken various approaches are qualitatively assessed as individual case studies for the benefit of design educators seeking the rigorous preparation of students for a seamless transition from academic practice to professional practice.

Keywords: Design, Curriculum, Foundations, Credibility

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.155-164. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 820.870KB).

Rukmini Ravikumar

Associate Professor, Graphic Design and Graduate Advisor, MFA program, Department of Design, , College of Arts, Media and Design, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

Rukmini (Ruki) Ravikumar was born and raised in Chennai (Madras), India. She has a Bachelor’s degree in History of Fine Art and Drawing and Painting from the University of Madras, India, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design from Iowa State University, USA. Her educational and professional experiences in India and the United States of America sparked an interest in exploring topics that relate to cross-cultural design. She has presented her research at national conferences and published her findings in international journals. At the University of Central Oklahoma she presently works as the Assistant Chair for the Department of Design, Director of the MFA in Design and Associate Professor of Graphic Design. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in design technology, design studio, typography, publication design, portfolio development, design in global cultures and design research. Her present interests include researching topics relevant to design education. She is an active member of AIGA and serves on the local board and the national design educators community steering committee.

Amy Johnson

Assistant Professor, Graphic Design & Foundations Program Coordinator, Department of Design, College of Arts, Media & Design, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

Amy graduated from Iowa State University with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design in 1994 and relocated to Oklahoma City where she began work as a designer with Walker Creative, Inc. In 1997, Amy felt it was time to go to graduate school to focus on conceptualization and material usage, fabrication and the intersection of design and technology as they relate to the creation of art. In 1999 she graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a M.F.A. in Studio Arts. Amy returned to Walker Creative, Inc. in 2001 as Creative Director. Her work has been published in Communication Arts and Print. She has won two Best of Shows as well as Gold and Silver Medals and numerous Citations of Merit in Graphix competitions. In addition to her more traditional graphic design work she remains a working artist exhibiting most recently at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. Amy presently teaches graphic design at the graduate and undergraduate level at the University of Central Oklahoma. Her research interests include, creative problem-solving in design and education and visual narratives in communication.


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