LESS, BUT BETTER

ESSENTIALISM AND INDUSTRIAL DESIGN EDUCATION
Author:
Michael Elwell
Company/School:
Richmond Institute for Design + Innovation at Western Michigan University

 

COVID-19 is just the latest crisis to affect Industrial Design education. Tuition rates, student debt, and enrollment numbers have plagued higher education for decades, and these issues are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. COVID-19, however, poses unique challenges that are stress-testing our ability to adapt. The pandemic led to a national discussion about who and what are truly essential? Doctors, nurses, first responders, and grocery store workers were celebrated and seen as necessary to society, while retail, travel, and entertainment employees filed for unemployment. In academia, we face a similar situation as distance-learning is leading to budget shortfalls. Cuts are being made and Industrial Design education is not immune to the fallout. We too are being asked to determine who and what are essential to our programs. These crucial decisions can often be viewed as subjective to those outside of the process. This paper applies framework from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less to the activities of the Richmond Institute for Design + Innovation. The result is paired-down programming with renewed focus on the Institute’s mission, core values, objectives, and essential intent.

 

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