Reforming Industrial Design Education in Mainland China for Sustainability


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Virginia Tech


Industrial Design in China seldom addresses the issue of sustainability in mass production. Failure to incorporate sustainable design as a core principle will result in long term environmental and economic loss for both business and society. This research studies the current Industrial Design educational system in Mainland China and proposes a new educational framework to engage sustainability as a design objective.

This study adopts the philosophical perspectives of constructivism, sustainable design theory, critical pedagogy, and systems thinking. Literature related to sustainability is collected and organized and overlaid with educational constraints identified through the interviews with educators, students, and practitioners of Industrial Design in four major cities of Mainland China. Using the grounded theory approach, from these two sources a new educational framework is proposed. The educational framework categorizes courses in a four year undergraduate Industrial Design educational program into four domains: ecological literacy, artistic, technological, and professional. Suggestions for the appropriate timeline, content, and pedagogical approaches for curriculum are also provided. The proposed framework was then critically reviewed Chinese educators that served as feedback for the final proposition.



Grounded theory method, Interviews, Curriculum building, Constructivist pedagogy, Design education