Crossing Cultures: Creating a PhD Programme in Engineering, Art and Design


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The Design Society

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In this paper, challenges and potential rewards of multi- disciplinary cooperation in engineering and design education are discussed with reference to the specific case of developing a joint PhD program in technology, engineering, art and design at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. A point of departure for the discussion is C.P. Snow’s identification of a conflict between two academic cultures: science and humanities. Snow argued that the mutual ignorance of the other group’s world view had become a direct hindrance to our ability to cope with the grand challenges of the future, such as famine, overpopulation and poverty . Today, more than 50 years later, Snow’s pessimistic diagnosis has still not lost its relevance. Cooperation and genuine understanding across disciplinary boundaries is encouraged, but seldom realized. The paper describes the current status of a multi-disciplinary PhD program in development in which Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is applied as a unifying, program defining perspective. Explaining how RRI may attend to needs and shortcomings in both academic cultures, the supplementary method of “critical making” is introduced and discussed The main content and structure of the program is presented, before a final evaluation of the challenges, potential risks and rewards of venturing into such a contested territory is offered.




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