Part 1: teaching and learning

Between the 6th and10th of May, 2019, Dr.Mafalda Moreira and Dr. Michael Pierre Johnson from the Innovation Schoo travelled to Portugal with two Product Design students to visit the University of Aveiro. Mafalda’s focus for the visit was mainly on related activities, while Michael’s focus was mainly on knowledge-exchange through the forum and wider conversations. 

Dr. Pedro Almeida, who has visited the Innovation School multiple times to deliver workshops for our UG Product Design students and PG Masters of Research students, was the generous host and curated a research forum titled ‘Anti-Amnesia’ for academics from GSA, Aveiro and Porto universities to share design research on cultural narratives of regeneration.More on this later.

It proved an intense and fascinating week for all, starting with our students — Emma Chisholm and Kourosh Khalilian — being briefed to do an Ethnographic Journal, where they would record and reflect on their experiences in Portugal. The purpose of this journal was to give our students a taste of ethnographic immersion, and the nuances of participant observation. Throughout the week the students met informally with Mafalda, Michael and Pedro to reflect on their academic and cross-cultural journeys, and to compare and contrast their experiences in Aveiro and Glasgow.

As part of their immersion, our students were also involved in providing peer feedback to the studio projects of their Portuguese colleagues. They shared how enjoyable an experience it was being on the other side of feedback, which happened to give them an insight into the role of their studio tutors.

From the teaching side, there was a rich exchange of pedagogical approaches and knowledge used by GSA and Aveiro. Mafalda took part in crits commenting on the projects of thePortuguese students exploring the heritage and tourism of Aldeias do Xisto – a consortium for rural development which covers 27 villages in the Centre-East of Portugal. Mafalda also conducted a seminar entitled Immersions covering ethnographic methods and comprehensive frameworks to inquire into people and place. The frameworks presented included the Quadruple Bottom Line of Sustainability, the IntegralQuadrants from Integral Theory, and the Rose Window Model developed by GSA’s director Irene McAra-McWilliam. During this seminar our GSA students took part in the group activities and brought a welcomed richness to the final reflective discussion.

Next: In part two of this blog entry more detail is shared about the Anti-Amnesia forum which closed the week with rich and vivid discussions about the emerging complexities behind design practices.


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