#Decolonise! 2017 Conf of the Design Education Forum of South Africa (Sep 2017, Tshwane South Africa)

Dates: 27-29 September 2017 Location: Freedom Park, City of Tshwane, South Africa. Website: DEFSA 2017 Conf Deadline for submission of ab...

Dates: 27-29 September 2017
Location: Freedom Park, City of Tshwane, South Africa.
Website: DEFSA 2017 Conf
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 4 April 2017

Design educators reflect on the call for the decolonisation of education.

The 2017 National DEFSA conference is hosted by Tshwane University of Technology & Inscape Education Group and will take place from 27 - 29 September 2017 at Freedom Park, City of Tshwane.

The year 2016 will be noted in the annals of history as a watershed year in South African Higher Education. The calls by South African students for decolonised education have been emphatically professed, loud and clear. As design educators, we need to interrogate our role in decolonising design education.

Through a strategic partnership with Freedom Park, and its Department of Heritage and Knowledge, DEFSA will host its 14th national conference to engage with the theme of Decolonising Design Education. The Design Education Forum of Southern Africa invites all role-players in design to submit academic papers that will contribute to this discourse. You do not need to be a DEFSA member or at an institution who is a member to submit a paper, but you will need to register (free).

Abstract deadline: 4 April 2017
Final Paper deadline: 24 July 2017

With the 2017 #Decolonise! Conference design educators are provided with the opportunity to reflect on, and critically interrogate the notion of Decolonisation in relation to design education with the aim of transforming existing practices. Asking questions on who, what, where, when and how?

Questions that require our urgent attention include:

  • What is our understanding of the call for decolonised education?
  • How do our curricula and pedagogical approaches stand up to this call? What values, assumptions and truths underlie our discipline?
  • To what extent do we incorporate the context and knowledge of the South, and more specifically of Africa into our discipline?
  • How do we bring practitioners of design into the conversation?
  • How are we contributing textbooks and learning resources to this project?
  • What do our students have to say on these issues?


To decolonise the tradition of academic conferences, the sub-themes of this conference will be ‘generated’ by the trends identified in the submissions received taking cognisance of the who, what, where, when and how approach while taking into account the contexts
of the author in design education.

Register an expression of interest

Click here to request an account on the DEFSA Members website.

“Makers” and “doers”

James Wang uses Aristotle’s theories of “reason, imagination, and practical intellect” when he writes on “The Importance of Aristotle to Design Thinking” (2013:4). He distinguishes between makers and doers. Makers are concerned with making excellent products while doers are concerned with justice, public values and social issues. Wang claims that designers, with a predisposition as makers, thus have a deficiency in getting involved with real, pertinent social issues. Wang’s argument is based on the theories of one of the founders of Western academe, a trend that is pertinent in many papers delivered at past DEFSA conferences. In contrast to Wang’s distinction between “makers” and “doers”, Buchanan states that “the quality of design is distinguished not merely by technical skill of execution or by aesthetic vision but by the moral and intellectual purpose toward which technical and artistic skill is directed” (2001:37).



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The Trouble with Normal...: #Decolonise! 2017 Conf of the Design Education Forum of South Africa (Sep 2017, Tshwane South Africa)
#Decolonise! 2017 Conf of the Design Education Forum of South Africa (Sep 2017, Tshwane South Africa)
The Trouble with Normal...
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