Infusing Cross-cultural Understanding into a Professional Design Curriculum

By Elaine L. Pedersen, Kathy Mullet, Kathryn Burton and Amy Scarborough.

Published by The Design Collection

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

With globalization, the need to promote cross-cultural awareness for design students continues to grow. It has become clear that merely offering one “cultural” course does not contribute to an adequate understanding of culture within our global society. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the process of infusing cross cultural aspects into selected courses of the design curriculum in the Department of Design and Human Environment at Oregon State University. Prior to the infusion the department had one “cultural” course. Four additional courses were identified as candidates for cultural infusion: two lower division and one upper division studio courses and one upper division lecture course. The cultural infusion objective for each class varied from providing a basic understanding of the term culture to teaching about selected cultures in order that students could use this new cultural information for inspiration in the design of a product. The faculty teaching the classes designed lectures, student activities, assignments, and evaluation processes to test the success of the cultural infusion. Future plans include creating activities that will promote a deeper understanding of culture.

Keywords: Cultural Understanding, Design Curriculum

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.79-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.069MB).

Dr. Elaine L. Pedersen

Associate Professor, Department of Design and Human Environment, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Dr. Elaine L. Pedersen’s specialization is the historic and cultural aspects of material culture. Her scholarship includes, textile design reflecting her interest in culture and history, research on 19th century Far Western dress in the U.S., explorations on the process of theory development, and concept analyses of creativity and theory. She received her BA from University of Washington, her MA from Michigan State University, and her PhD from University of Minnesota.

Dr. Kathy Mullet

Associate Professor, Department of Human Environment and Design, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Dr. Mullet teaches and conducts research in Apparel Design. Her research in functional apparel focuses on needs assessments related to body movement and psychological needs of the consumer. Additional research has focused on cultural and personalities backgrounds of designers and the influence these have on designers’ works. Dr. Mullet received her BS, MS and PhD from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Kathryn Burton

Assistant Professor, Division of Design and Merchandising, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

Dr. Kathryn L. Burton teaches courses in interior design and furniture history, design foundations, and residential design studios. Areas of research interest include 19th century English architect AWN Pugin, historic church architecture and concept analysis of creativity. Dr. Burton received her BS, MS, and PhD from Oregon State University.

Dr. Amy Scarborough

Assistant Professor, Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising, Georgian Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, USA

Dr. Amy D. Scarborough conducts research on historic and cultural studies in dress and design. She teaches classes in fashion and visual merchandising. She received her PhD in cultural and historic aspects of design in the human environment from Oregon State University, MS in costume history from the University of Georgia, and a BS in geography and international studies from the University of Georgia.


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