Design Academia - 国公立デザイン系大学会議

"The 1st Association of Design Departments and Schools in Japanese Public Universities Conference" Part 1

The 1st Association of Design Departments and Schools in Japanese Public Universities Conference was held on Saturday, October 5, 2019, at the International Design Liaison Center in Tokyo Midtown Design Hub.Under the organizer of the Kyushu University Faculty of Design, the Center for Designed Futures of Kyushu University, and the Japan Institute of Design Promotion, a total of 18 universities attended the conference.

Before the program commenced, Mr Akira Tamagami, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Mr Takuya Kikuchi, Assistant Manager of the Cool Japan Policy Division and Design Policy Office, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry / Service Group, gave short speeches.

The conference has brought the universities together for the first time to reach a common understanding of their role to play in the higher education of design with the increasing social role and expectations for design. It has also provided a valuable opportunity for the universities having different histories, backgrounds and challenges to have an engaging discussion on the future design education.

The conference consists of two parts and a discussion. Part 1 introduces the agenda of the conference and the Design Academia website. Part 2 presents the case studies of each university. We have Professor Ryusuke Imanaka from the Akita University of Art, Associate Professor Shogo Baba from Tokyo Metropolitan University, Associate Professor Kenya Kitamura from Kanazawa College of Art, Professor Yuichi Izu from Shizuoka University of Arts and Culture, Professor Setsuko Takai from Kyoto City University of Arts and Professor Masakuza Tani from Kyushu University.


Part2(first half

Case Study Akita University of Art / Tokyo Metropolitan University / Kanazawa College of Art / Shizuoka University of Art and Culture / Kyoto City University of Arts / Kyushu University

In the first half of the second part, six of the universities participating in the Association of Design Departments and Schools in Japanese Public Universities Conference were given ten minutes to present their latest initiatives.
Almost all the universities in this conference have reorganized their faculties and departments in recent years or in progress. We can see that the design field is going through a transformation now. Also, there were some similarities in the organizational policies and curriculum policies.


Common Education in Lower Years
Many universities are working on a wide range of common education in art and design for the first two years. As the areas of design have diversified, this change is to allow for more cross-disciplinary learning and broader thinking before proceeding to a major.
For example, at Akita University of Art and Design, the students learn five areas in the first year, then select two majors in the second year and one major in the third year. The curriculum is designed to develop a specialization.


Hybrid Approach
Design consists of all stages of the creative process, from “formation expression based on colors and shapes” to “proposing and verifying issues and needs in various fields and leading to solutions”. The curriculum at the university has also moved away from single specialization. There are examples of hybrid education integrating other fields.
In Tokyo Metropolitan University, the Department of Industrial Art belongs to the Faculty of System Design, where advanced engineering is studied. With the mission of designing advanced engineering, research is conducted in 12 highly specialized studios (laboratories).
In the Visual Design course at the Kyoto City University of Arts, they held joint classes with Osaka University that integrated medicine, nursing, engineering, and arts (design).
The Faculty of Design of Kyushu University has reorganized five departments into one department with five loosely parallel courses. The aim is to develop students with the ability to integrate cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills into the advanced design. For example, students from different courses can work together in a design exercise.
Kanazawa College of Art also has faculty members in five areas: Landscape, Architecture, Interior, Products, and Graphics, and students are working on tasks involving these five areas.


Pursuit of Revitalizing the Regional
Many universities designed curriculum that preserve the identity of local cities, solve local issues, and to work with local businesses.
For example, the “Takumi area” newly established at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture has four majors related to traditional crafts such as “Traditional Architecture”, “Wood Craft / Lacquer Art”, “Metal Craft”, and “Dyeing and weaving”. They are located in a thriving area of automobile and musical instrument production, and they intended to develop globally accessible human resources by increasing local expertise.


In this sharing, there were many examples of connecting education and practice, such as service design and vision design that are tackling new design fields. These case studies showed that the design education in the universities has responded to the demands of society.


Click here to read more regarding the latter half of the second part of the discussion.

Articles on the initiatives of the participating universities are below.
Future University Hakodate
Sapporo City University
Iwate University
Akita University of Art
University of Tsukuba
Chiba University
Tokyo Metropolitan University
Nagaoka Institute of Design
University of Toyama
Kanazawa College of Art
Shizuoka University of Art and Culture
Aichi University of the Arts
Nagoya City University
Kyoto Institute of Technology
Kyoto City University of Arts
Okayama Prefectural University
Onomichi City University
Hiroshima City University
Kagawa University
Kyushu University
Saga University
Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts