Blog 8 | December 10, 2021

This newsletter provides an update on the many activities underway:

  1. An update on the working groups.
  2. A new (and revised) request for submission to our essays program.

Working Groups

The Steering Committee has now launched twelve working groups, each addressing a specific theme. The schedules for their work and future themes are staggered to pace the committee in its work. Current working groups include 101 people from 29 countries. Typically, a working group is led by two experts, one from practice and one from academia. They invite members and advisors, some from the list of volunteers and others from their networks. A member of the Steering Committee serves as a liaison between the working group and the larger administration of the initiative. The working groups are addressing the following topics.

There will be a number of cross-cutting topics that every group will address. For example, ethics is a concern under each of the themes. Likewise, the boundaries between themes are permeable and a later phase of development will identify shared or complementary concepts across themes. These relationships will help schools in assigning content to courses in ways that fit with their particular curricula structures.

Working groups generate three types of information for discussion with the broader community through future distributions of drafts for public feedback:

  1. Working groups begin with a list of overarching concepts or principles that represent the theme and structure knowledge and skill recommendations that follow. These are not introductory concepts. They demand deep student inquiry as insights that define design expertise, are at the core of the discipline, and will remain relevant long after students graduate.
  2. The second working group deliverable details things to know and do. This includes perspectives, theories, methods, and skills through which students inquire and take action as designers.
  3. The final deliverable by working groups are things with which students should be familiar. These are examples of things students should have read, heard, seen, or otherwise encountered. They are more temporary in their relevance than the other two categories of knowledge and don’t require deep mastery, but are typical references in a community of practice.

A Call For Essays

The Future of Design Education online essay series focuses on how to educate designers. Papers should be of interest to educators, students, design firms, and/or other hiring organizations.

We want to hear from those whose voices are not usually heard as well as from established experts. We also seek essays from design students and young academics, as well as design professionals.

Essay topics
We seek thoughtful, serious writings, supported by evidence and engaged with the current literature on design. Our goal is to add to existing knowledge and perspectives that can serve as useful resources for design educators. We are particularly interested in papers that address new and non-traditional issues important to design education, pedagogy, and/or curricula.

The audience for these essays consists of university faculty members and design students, as well as professional practitioners with an interest in design education, therefore papers should make a strong case for why the topics under discussion are especially relevant issues for these intended readers. If the topic of an essay relates to an existing field, it should address how the field might change to be relevant in the 21st century. If the essay focuses on such current concerns as ethics, indigenous knowledge, sustainability, business models, changes in professional practice, or changing technology, it should address how these issues might affect the design curriculum.

With this first Call for Papers, we encourage essays that can, in some way, connect to, or align with, any of the Future of Design Education principles, themes, student characteristics, or pedagogical principles. These appear in the Overview document which you can download here: If you feel that we have left out any important issues, we’d like you to address them.

Almost any topic of an essay will be complex, so that a single short essay cannot possibly cover all of the important issues. We therefore invite multiple essays on similar topics, as long as they are not redundant. As much as possible, we will post essays on similar topics in the same section of the website to make it easier for readers.

Submission process
Submissions are welcome at any time. There is no specific deadline. Essays will be reviewed regularly.
If you are not certain that an essay would be of interest, please write a query, together with a brief statement of the goal and topic of your essay.

Submissions should:

Essay submissions should be sent by email to:

‍How long is short?
Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” We will follow this principle, rephrasing the quotation to be, “The essay should be as short as possible, but no shorter.”

We prefer essays of 2-3 pages (including figures, but not counting references). However, some material requires a longer text. The absolute upper limit is 10 pages (including figures, but not counting references).

The editorial process
Although this is not a formal peer-review process, editors will follow traditional academic editorial principles and standards. The editors will review essays on an ongoing basis. Many authors will receive suggestions for improvement or requests for revisions. Accepted essays can be found on our Published Essays page, which you can view here:

Authors will retain ownership and all rights to their writing
Essays will be published under a Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND). Authors will own and control all uses of their essays, and. Authors are free to post essays or reuse the content. When you submit an essay, you give the Future of Design Education permission to post and reuse the final, accepted essay for the purposes of the initiative. Any use of the essay will always give full credit to the authors by name. Although traditional academic journals do not generally publish articles that have already been published or articles that are widely available, short essays should not interfere with the future publication of expanded works.

Editorial board

Deborah Littlejohn: Assoc. Prof. of Graphic Design, North Carolina State University

Associate Editors
Alice Comi: Assoc. Prof. of Design, Tongji University, Shanghai
Luke Feast: Senior Lecturer, Industrial Design, Auckland University of Technology, N.Z.
Susan Hagan: Assoc. Teaching Prof., Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar
Ali Ilhan: Assist. Prof., Özyeğin University, Istanbul

Meredith Davis
Ken Friedman
Don Norman