After an intense, university-wide effort to design a forward-thinking curriculum for Philadelphia University’s Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, the efforts of PhilaU’s faculty and staff were recognized in a national awards competition that selected the DEC curriculum as the top educational initiative in 2012.
The curriculum that guides Kanbar College was selected for a 2012 Design Award from Core77, a leading design publication that highlights organizations that advance the profession each year at their annual awards ceremony. PhilaU’s curriculum was selected as the winner in the educational initiatives category from a national pool of entries.
“We salute the team from Philadelphia University for taking a bold step to reinvent what amounts to 50 percent of the university… bringing together 15 undergraduate departments and more than 1,500 students,” said Mariana Amatullo, vice president of the DesignMatters department at the Art Center College of Design and Core77 jury captain.
“I thought that this particular program really reflects the complexities of the world in which we live and truly, truly reflects the future of design,” said Karen Hofmann, also of Art Center College of Design and another contest juror.
The innovative DEC curriculum was established before the start of the 2011-12 academic year after being developed through a collaborative effort by Philadelphia University faculty and staff. It includes four core courses—Integrative Design Process, Business Models, Systems Thinking, and Ethnographic Research—along with an integrated capstone project at the end of a student’s tenure at PhilaU. The courses combine the knowledge and ways of thinking typically taught in design, engineering and business courses and combines them in a way that enables students to go beyond the boundaries of a traditional degree.
“Breaking down the institutional structures and working collectively through the entire institution to reimagine and reconfigure the entire curriculum is evidence of an institution that is determined to leap frog,” said Johanna Blakely, another juror and the managing director and director of research at the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California.
The curriculum mirrors the changes in the 21st century work world, where a sophisticated understanding of design, engineering and business help young professionals move into leadership positions and create inventive products and services. Rather than being confined to limited roles within one discipline, DEC teaches students to collaborate with their peers and prepare for a future career that is boundless.
“This award reaffirms the direction we are taking with our DEC curriculum,” said Ron Kander, executive dean of Kanbar College. “It’s an honor to be recognized for our hard work, but our true reward will be seeing the accomplishments of our students as they begin using the knowledge they obtain through this truly unique program and apply it in the real world. We are already seeing amazing things happening on our campus.”