Forging Resilient Designers

Senior Comenius Fellowship

A "successful graduation" is seen as the pinnacle of a student's degree and provides a tangible path to a professional career. During extensive research into graduating student motivation and student challenges during Covid-19, we have become deeply aware of the mental, social and financial difficulties facing our Masters cohort. In addition to the ever-present environmental and performance pressure, graduating design students are increasingly interested in solving 'big picture problems'. This unique combination of factors causes a high degree of uncertainty and vulnerability in our students when they must be resilient in order to learn and grow.

Instead of viewing this framed problem, student resilience, as within the domain of academic counsellors and psychologists, we propose that forging resilient designers be an educational activity central to the development of successful graduations – and more fundamentally as an approach to preparing designers for the rigours of professional practice. 

“Forging Resilient Designers” will develop a program for ‘designer resilience’ that equips graduation students with the capacity to negotiate inherent complexities faced in design graduations. Designer resilience is preliminarily defined as the personal capacity of the designer to (1) cope with uncertainty, (2) respond to setbacks, (3) and process critique. The Comenius project will approach the development of designer resilience in a student-centric way, identifying and defining designer resilience, and developing designer resilience pedagogical tools through co-design workshop with students, student guilds and teachers.

This project is funded by the NWO, under the grant number: 405.21865.414

The project approach will be student-centric, always involving and even allowing students to guide the development of a resilience program. Specifically, intended results will be:

  1. Resilient designer workshops to a) prepare graduates for their forthcoming projects, b) midterm workshops to support graduates during their projects; 
  2. Creation of designer resilience student network for mentoring and sharing of experiences;
  3. A program and pedagogical tools to empower self-regulated learning of students on the topic of designer resilience to be implemented during the IDE Faculty’s Master revision;
  4. Development of a learning matrix that allows for integration of designer resilience into the graduation grading scheme;
  5. Measurement protocol to evaluate the effectiveness of the designer resilience program.