20 Years of Doctoral Research Studies in Design in Hong Kong

20 Years of Doctoral Research Studies in Design in Hong Kong

Kin Wai Michael Siu (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Giovanni J. Contreras Garcia (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0911-0.ch010
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For the past 50 years, the School of Design of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been a pioneer in nurturing design education in Asia. It is also one of the first schools in the region to grant PhDs in “Design” serving as a role model for other universities in the region. Since the 1990s, the school has produced tens of PhD degree holders across different design specialties. However, as times change and knowledge plays a more fundamental role in the economy, the ability to produce quality design researchers, capable of creating deep and specific insights will become fundamental for the future of design in the region. In this chapter we review the emergence, growth and future of the PhD programme at the school of design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University against a landscape of challenges of doctoral research education, particularly in the case of design. We also discuss the strategies used in the past, present and future, as the school moves into a new era of economic and geopolitical scenarios in the 21 century.
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Origins of the PhD programme at the school of design can be traced back to the early 1990s, however full-time PhD students only appeared until 1998, ever since, the number of PhD students has grown steadily. Initially, research conducted at the school tended to focus on Design Technologies, but this focus has been expanding steadily. Until recently, PhD studies at the school have happened within the different laboratories that integrate the school: Asian Lifestyle Design Lab, Asian Ergonomics Design Lab, Creativity and Design Education Lab, Digital Entertainment Lab, Information Design Lab, Interaction Design Lab, Public Design Lab, and Urban Environments Lab. In addition, there are several other research projects under the Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation (School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2015; De Bont, 2015). However, during the last PhD forum held and Hunan University, Professor Ilpo Koskinen announced that this strategy is changing, and in the future it is expected that most research at the school of design will fall into three main streams: Design Making, Design and Business, and Social Design (Hunnan University, 2016).

Today the PhD programme is one of the largest programmes in Asia with 45 registered students working on areas as varied as sustainable design, participatory design, public design, design and technology, design and business, and design education, and produces around 6 and 8 graduates a year (De Bont, 2015). Most of these students come to school under PhD fellowships that provide financial support for up to 3 years, however as it will be discussed later, it is common that students see themselves in the need to extend their studies beyond their ‘normal study period’. The programme has and continues to be an inspiration and role model for other Universities in the region, and a springboard for students from the mainland to go abroad. As we advance further into the 21st century, the school continues to take steps towards improving the quality of its research and PhD programme, the school has recently reviewed its leadership structure, and appointed a vice-dean for research.

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