The Value of Co-Design across cultures: Engaging students to solve the ‘wicked problems’ of the 21st century

Lisa SCHAROUN, Carlos Alberto Montana-Hoyos

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


To be an effective designer in today’s job market, students must be equipped with more than just technical skills. Today’s design leaders know how to engage with other cultures and understand how to approach the wicked problems of the 21st century. By 2020 Australia and many other countries in the Asia Pacific region will have a large imbalance of citizens over the age of 65. The impact of this population imbalance in both Australia and abroad will be profound. More robust health services will need to be implemented and considerations for housing, community interaction and dealing with new technologies will need to be adapted to suit the needs of this growing population. To teach students how to approach and address this issue we believe that a multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural approach is necessary. In June 2017, 27 students from the disciplines Graphic, Web and Industrial Design, as well as Nursing, from four Australian states (VIC ACT, NSW and QLD) travelled to Singapore to work with 47 Singaporean and Hong Kong students from the areas of Public Health, Nursing, Built Environment, Visual Communications and Product Design. Students explored the concept of “design for healthy ageing in multicultural societies” through an extensive research report and in site visits, lectures and intensive workshops and then designed strategies and prototypes for new technologies and approaches around key issues such as social isolation, dealing with new technologies, dementia care, mobility issues, residential care, and community engagement. This paper outlines our process and the benefits of this approach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools Conference ACUADS 2017
Subtitle of host publicationValue
EditorsAnthea Callen, T'ai Smith, Ann Stephen
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherAustralian Council of University Art and Design Schools
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2017
EventAustralian Council of University Arts & Design Schools Annual Conference - Australian National University School of Art and Design , Canberra , Australia
Duration: 27 Sept 201728 Sept 2017
Conference number: 16


ConferenceAustralian Council of University Arts & Design Schools Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleACUADS 2018
OtherAustralian university art and design schools are facing increasing economic and political challenges. The visible impact of these pressures on the sector is already evident and has been widely discussed. Inevitably, the careers of younger and emerging academics will unfold in a very different environment to their older and more established colleagues. Against the backdrop of this profound change it is important to establish and declare the continuing value to Australia of art and design, and therefore the continuing value of university education and research in those disciplines. This conference explored ‘value’ in all of its manifold senses
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