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M. Zingoni

Arizona State University (UNITED STATES)
Design Schools across the country and around the world house often a variety of design disciplines that address design at different scales. We live in a world whose complexity increases daily and the edges between design disciplines are getting blurred. The design process in the industry, from the idea to the implementation, is heavily based in the collaboration among the design disciplines. We are witnessing an era of constant change, interior designers are brought to the design process to inform the structure of a building for example. These new generation of students will have to work collaborative with others, projects will become more intricate because of their interdisciplinary nature. The challenge for academics is to expose students to other disciplines finding the right intersection between teaching and community service to empower both for social change through a collaborative process.

The paper presents an annual interdisciplinary cluster competition (ICC) organized at the beginning of every spring for Junior students in the disciplines of Architecture, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture and Visual Communication at The Design School at Arizona State University.

The ICC is shaped using the EDIT methodology (Zingoni, 2014) through a process that
(1) Engages the community,
(2) Defines a problem,
(3) Infer solutions,
(4) to socially embed Transformation through design.

The timeframe of the competition is the first ten days of the semester. In which the students are assembled in teams representing four of the five design disciplines, before they are introduced to the non profit working with. Students engage in a conversation with members of the community, to define a problem and infer an strategy through the design disciplines the team represents. The teams with assistance from faculty mentors applied Studio Based Learning methodology combined with a real world problem. This combination enhanced the competition learning outcomes because of the impact of intraprofessional experience on student learning and their ability to generate holistic and resourceful solutions (Shraiky & Lamb, 2012). The result is a win-win experience that empowers students to become social changers, and expose them to an understanding of collaborative practice. Students’ motivation to win the competition increased in comparison with previous years with the implementation of a priceless award.

This article describes the methodology, outcomes and the experience of an interdisciplinary competition that exposes the students to other disciplines as well as to the collaborative process to propose a social change through design. The outcomes include: (1) the impact of student learning and their ability to generate holistic and innovative solutions through the interdisciplinary collaborative process, (2) the impact of students learning in a team based format, (3) the impact of student learning through the community engagement, and (4) the design strategies that arose from a problem seeking strategy that could work as a catalyst to generate change through design.