Education to practice: the development of responsibility in product designers

Birkett, Stacey; Lloyd, Peter and Garner, Steve (2011). Education to practice: the development of responsibility in product designers. Journal of Design Research, 9(2) pp. 131–145.



The design professions today claim to take responsibility seriously, but the knowledge base for guiding responsible designing is erratic. Some definition of the topic has been provided through the interface between engineering and ethics, but the relationship between responsibility and product design has received less attention. This paper investigates design responsibility in design education and practice. It explores the way in which designers’ perceptions mediate the interpretation and application of responsibility in their practice. The results show how concepts of responsibility change across levels of expertise, with the contexts of education and practice appearing to mould and influence designers’ perceptions of responsibility. The paper presents three snapshots – of first year design students, graduating students and practising designers – to demonstrate how the development of responsibility evolves.

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