Karnavati University’s Interdisciplinary Courses Break Traditional Narratives of Design Education

As the world around us grapples with increasingly complex challenges that defy traditional solutions and ways of thinking, one of the few areas of endeavour that hold out the promise of solutions are the rapidly emerging fields of interdisciplinary thinking, design and practice. The new age design education demands interdisciplinary skills, enjoining design schools to reimagine their curriculums.

Karnavati University, through its School of Computational Intelligence (USCI), has re-imagined interdisciplinary space for its students with curiosity, compassion & creativity.

We are rediscovering what our ancestors knew thousands of years ago – the fact that a multi-disciplinary approach mirrors situations in our lives and equips both the teacher and the student with a diverse range of skills to include analysis, synthesis, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, time management, primary research methodologies, teamwork, among others. Designers with a combination of skills in design, technology and arts are the future of the design and manufacturing industries,” says Ritesh Hada, President, Karnavati University.

Hada believes in a simple concept – that it is vital to understand the Human at the centre of all endeavours to better design the objects, interfaces and technologies that we use or that the social and behavioural sciences are just as important as material sciences in the human quest for motivation, happiness and fulfilment. This belief is reflected at Karnavati University through new courses, studios, labs and futuristic curriculum

Col. Surojit Bose, Director – Academics, Administration & International Collaboration at the Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID) – a constituent college under Karnavati University – shares, “We at UID have created an interdisciplinary space with curiosity, compassion and creativity embracing precepts and concepts which fuses high-tech/social and behavioural-sciences/ psychology in a future-ready interdisciplinary curriculum to give each UID student an edge over the competition.”

USCI has developed a number of interdisciplinary curriculums which combines several disciplines like technology, liberal arts, design and business into one active project or is organized to cut across subject-matter lines, bringing together various aspects of the curriculum into meaningful association. USCI includes four specializations of Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Robotics & Automation and Cryptography & Block Chain – each specialization focusing on promoting innovation and creative thinking.

The designer has to move out of the discipline specific silos created in the last century and transform into an individual who can work across disciplines to deal with challenges that have a complexity and scale that defies solutions through the lens of any single discipline/domain. It calls for practitioners of design who can bring to bear a comprehensive understanding of human culture, psychology and motivations upon design issues along with the traditional tools of science art and technology. Melding these diverse needs with a rigor for the discipline of design and a love for aesthetics will define the designers of the future,” says Rudrajit Bose, Assistant Director, Lifestyle Accessory Design at UID.

It has taken critical understanding and brainstorming from a group of faculty and leadership at Karnavati University with focus on creating an interdisciplinary curriculum.

Interdisciplinarity in Design is like the traditional wheel being reimagined. In a sense, interdisciplinarity has defined design education and practice like how the wheel has defined the machine,” says Rahul Bhattacharya, Associate Professor, School of Communication Design.

Karnavati University is one of the few universities in India that was proactively pivoting towards this paradigm shift from traditional delivery models to a hybrid blended one as far back as 2016. “We were thus considerably better prepared when the pandemic swept across the planet this year. In a rapidly globalizing and networked world, these ideas translate to a UID graduate profile that aims at skills and competencies that are easily transferable across contexts, socio cultural/geo political environments and traditional definitions of competencies,” says Col. Bose.

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