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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 following refurbishments:

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.

Experimental courses
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 Fellowships.

GIS lab
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.

Lectures series
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.

Faculty-staff forums
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, Aug. 22.

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 specific disciplines.

"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 technology."

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Published by: University Relations,
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