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THE HARMONIC INTEGRATION OF CULTURE AND SKILLS IN DESIGN: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY EXPERIENCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION

I. Suteu, A. Brovelli, M. Scalzi

Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (ITALY)
The design education is constantly enriched by the knowledge exchange between the different academic institutions. In the recent years many international projects have reported an increased international mobility [1][2] and the cultural benefits that these exchanges bring to higher education institutions. Most important the concept of mobility underlines a multi-directional flow and “brain circulation” constrasting it to “brain drain” [3]. Short exchange programs respond to this trend, encouraging students to experience the immersion in different cultural and learning environments. Nevertheless, the increased cultural and disciplinary diversity introduce important challenges for both students and teachers [4][5].

The next paper reports an ongoing pedagogical experience that brings together three areas of design: interior, graphic and interaction, in the context of a semester abroad class, dedicated to visiting students in an art and design academy based in Milan.

Recognizing the high level of complexity of transfering skills and knowledge, the main question addressed is how to craft the pedagogical content in order to integrate the three design perspectives and encourage collaboration in the multicultural groups. We suggest that culturaly responsive teaching [6] and attitute can improve the above mentioned disciplinary integration and skill transfer.

The paper is structured in three parts:
• firstly we will introduce the context in which the fine arts academy is placed, emphasizing the cultural importance of design in the Milan environment. It will be underlined how experienceing the Italian culture
• secondly we will present the organization of the course, underlining the importance of a structure shared between all the teachers; we will also stress how the core content has to be further adapted to the skills, interests and cultural background of the students.
• thirdly, we will present the results of several courses exemplifying the implementations made gradually by the teachers in order to better integrate the different disciplines making it more meaningful for students.

In conclusion we will discuss the results showing how the diversity challenges were interpreted as opportunities for change and how this approach supported students to collaborate while expressing their own personality and culture in the final output.

References:
[1] Addison, Tony. "The international mobility of cultural talent." The International Mobility of Talent: Types, Causes, and Development Impact (2008): 236.
[2] Collins, Francis Leo. "Bridges to learning: international student mobilities, education agencies and inter‐personal networks." Global Networks 8, no. 4 (2008): 398-417.
[3] Saxenian, A., 2005. From brain drain to brain circulation: Transnational communities and regional upgrading in India and China. Studies in Comparative International Development (SCID), 40(2), pp.35-61.
[4] Bryan, Lynn A., and Mary M. Atwater. "Teacher beliefs and cultural models: A challenge for science teacher preparation programs." Science Education 86, no. 6 (2002): 821-839.
[5] Chalmers, F. Graeme. Celebrating pluralism: Art, education, and cultural diversity. Vol. 5. Getty Publications, 1996.
[6] Gay, Geneva. "Preparing for culturally responsive teaching." Journal of teacher education 53, no. 2 (2002): 106-116.