Aug. 15, 2003
Re-Design continues this fall
by Debra Gibson
The College of Design celebrates its silver anniversary this year by
renovating its very foundations.
With nary a construction crane in sight, the college is overhauling its
academic curriculums with the goal of enhanced national distinction. As part
of a visioning process that was initiated more than two years ago by Dean
Mark Engelbrecht, the college is in the initial phases of restructuring how
it delivers design education while maintaining its professional status,
upholding the tenets of the land-grant university and collaborating on a
campus steeped in science and technology.
Thanks to $200,000 in enhancement funding allocated last fall by President
Gregory Geoffroy and private dollars, the college has initiated the
New faculty posts
Four new faculty positions have been filled. One position will oversee the
creation of the colleges under-graduate foundations program, a group of core
courses designed to prepare first-year students for the college's six
professional programs. The remaining hires will teach in
new areas identified by the college as priorities: landscape ecology,
geographic information systems (GIS; see below) and multimedia design and
animation. A fifth position, recently approved for central funding in FY05,
will be a community design/extension job.
Several new experimental design courses have been approved. Course proposals
had to be submitted by faculty members from at least two departments within
the college, according to Kate Schwennsen, associate dean and chairperson of
the envisioning task force.
Four of the courses were offered last spring. Two more will be offered for
the first time this fall, including an introduction to design culture. The
course was created by Gregory Palermo, architecture; Mike Martin, landscape
architecture; Gary Tartakov and John Cunnally, art and design and Susan
Bradbury, community and regional planning; as part of their Miller Faculty
The college has created a geographic information systems (GIS) laboratory
and certification program. GIS uses multiple computer maps to do all sorts
of spatial analysis, for example, overlaying a waterways map with a map of
large animal production facilities to see where the potential for water
contamination exists. Faculty across campus have been lobbying for a GIS
program for nearly 20 years.
The department of community and regional planning will administer the
certification program, which until now has been spread over campus and
taught in many different fashions. Another half dozen departments are
collaborators on the program. Also involved are the colleges Institute for
Design Research and Outreach and the GIS Support and Research Facility in
the Durham Center.
This fall, students may begin the 13-credit graduate certification. Some
coursework will be conducted in the colleges new $100,000 GIS lab, which was
designed and constructed last spring by fifth-year architecture students
under the direction of Bruce Bassler. Faculty conducting GIS-related
research also will use the lab.
Lecture series were held fall and spring semesters last year to address the
challenges faced in rethinking foundations course offerings and to initiate
more dialogue between the arts and the sciences at Iowa State.
In the spring, a faculty forum was held to "reinvigorate" the visioning
process, Schwennsen said. In addition to sharing progress, the 75 staff and
faculty who took part discussed other visioning areas not yet broached,
including the field of design science, a new major in product design and a
Ph.D. program in design. A similar faculty forum is scheduled for Friday,
So what's next?
"At this point, we need to complete our experimental offerings and assess
their success," Schwennsen said. "Then we have to look at our curricula for
all degree programs, look at the expected learning outcomes for all these
programs, and determine how all these pieces support our other unique and
"As new courses replace existing courses, faculty responsibilities change,"
she continued. "Resources needed should be comparable. And we still want to
grow some other programs and areas of expertise, like more emphasis on
community design and its implications to sustainability. All of this will
require additional money, which the dean is out there now trying to raise.
"Right now, we're the missionaries for this whole envisioning idea, and the
university has been extremely supportive," Schwennsen said. Iowa State
understands how this college contributes to a university of science and
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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