Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses
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ItemEducating the next generation of communication designers: Addressing environmentally sustainable design principles and practices in Australian undergraduate communication design curriculum.Miceli, Maria Luisa ( 2021)Mitigating the impacts of anthropocentric environmental degradation is both an individual and collective responsibility. This research considered the role of higher education in advancing environmental sustainability (ES). The purpose of this study was to specifically investigate the way environmentally sustainable design principles and practices (EDSPP) were being addressed in undergraduate communication design (CD) courses in Australia. This multi-case study comprised of five Australian universities, each representing a single case. Each case was divided into two communities. Community One – represented the executive and senior leaders who set the strategic direction of the university, this strategic direction was identified through publicly available documentation. The second community, Community Two – represented teachers within the communication design faculty. These teachers were interviewed to understand: their philosophy in relation to ESDPP; what influenced their pedagogical decisions and how these values were implemented in their teaching practice. The findings demonstrated that ES was recognised by Community One through the university’s values and goals, yet ES activities were often limited to facilities management. The majority of teachers in Community Two recognised the importance of EDSPP in CD; however, they reported that attempts at embedding these practices into their units were often challenging. The study identified three main factors – eco-anxiety, holistic understanding of the course, and effective leadership concerning ES, most prevented progressing ESDPP in undergraduate CD courses. These challenges meant that EDSPP rarely progressed beyond arbitrary material choice inclusions within projects, rather than consideration for the critical relationship between communication design and consumerism and the changing nature of the CD profession. These one-dimensional material aspects, while important, remain superficial and shallow and may hinder the trajectory toward deeper behavioural changes that would promote a paradigm shift. This transformation may require a meaningful endorsement of environmental sustainability as a university value and a concrete plan to drive structural and course content change that would support teachers in undertaking this paradigm shift.