On friday January 3rd, a group of people were called to a brainstorming session to discuss design education in Lebanon. With the support of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, MENA Design Research Center, and Beirut Art Center, Master student Vrouyr Joubanian (ex-project coordinator of DESMEEM and MENA DRC) is now embarking on a new venture in researching the topic within the Master of Design for Social Impact of the University of Arts. The participants were selected according to three group categories: educators, students and professionals. The list includes: Diala Lteif, Doreen Toutikian, Marc Baroud, Rana Haddad, Pierre Hage-Boutros, Simon Mhanna, Hala Hassan, Danny Arakji, Micheline Nahra, Cyril Kallab, Elias Salamoun, Salim Batlouni, Ronald Abdala, Joumana Matar, Pascal Hachem, Mohamed Yassine, Karim Chaaya, and Rani Rajji.
The workshop was conducted through a series of activities that encouraged the discussion of various issues regarding the current state of education, the major challenges that are faced, insights to opportunities, and potential solutions that can be developed. As design research methods, these co-creative activities serve as tools to ease the communication among participants and share ideas within an open-minded and encouraging atmosphere. Much of the themes revolved around universities, institutions, politics, culture and history. As stakeholders and design enthusiasts that yearn for change, insights were collected from various perspectives, and honest confrontations were made possible between the educators, the students and the professionals. Although more specific details will be provided by Vrouyr Joubanian in the course of further research and analysis. It was clear that much of the problem stems from the politics of institutions that act as handicaps to Lebanon in most social and professional realms. Words such as stagnation, lock-in systems, backwardness, corruption and lack of collaboration were common highlights that encompass the frustration of educators.
By the end of the workshop, 5 teams developed possible solutions to the challenges faced. Then a vote was cast to determine which were more feasible and promising. In the coming weeks, a more concrete strategy will be formulated and a collective of people is set to develop outside the institutions to provide a more solid and hopeful future for design education in Lebanon.
To read Vrouyr’s post on the subject with more detail, please follow this link: http://vrouyr.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/about-design-education-in-lebanon/
Photo credits: Rizkallah Chaaraoui