Until now I thoughtk that the reading list/core list concept is an axiom in
any research community. However, there are evidently designers who what to
change the field of sience so that they can easily obtain Doctor of
Philosophy degrees. (I refer only to the Doctor of PHILOSOPHY degree, not
the Doctor of DESIGN degree or any other DESIGN degree!).
The discussion on core texts/reading lists went too long. and without basic
references the nature of learning and building new knowledge (I appologize
if someone had mentioned this before me, but I do not remember such post).
As I mentioned several times, such questions can be resolved best with the
help of professional philosopher of science. Everything short of this will
be just an exercise in typing.
Even a mid-range philosopher of science will tell you that it is impossible
to start working in a domain without knowing what the leading scientists
have done before you. Even if these guys are dumbbells, you, the bright
guy, need to know the shortcomings of the existing developments in order to
build a case for formulating research problems. Research problems are
developed in several major ways - starting with problems from practice;
adding to previous research achievements; detecting "blank spots,"
unexplored areas in the literature; or inconsistencies and methodological
incorrectness in the works of your predecessors. Students in research need
to know even the mindless texts, particularly when they are written by
influential leaders in the field. Criticism of existing theories has always
been the stepping stone for developing a new theory, regardless of the
In addition, entry level researchers need to have a broad outlook in regard
to all paradigmatic orientation in the field, before they become capable to
make their own decisions what orientation is productive for then and what
domain needs additional redevelopment.
The lists of core readings will differ depending on the paradigmatic
orientation the professor, the traditions of the program, and the
traditions of the field. After a general core list, there should be a
"second," let's say, "sub-core" list with texts that are selected within
one paradigmatic tradition.
In the old German University tradition, students were choosing a University
because of the opportunity to study with a particular professor or in a
particular department. They knew in advance the intellectual preferences of
the professors and in this way they practically chose the paradigmatic
environment in which they would like to work. Today students go after
financial aid and than they complain that the core lists of the professors
do not make sense to them. Of course, these students should have been more
informed before they chose the school.
The bottom line: Follow the instruction of your professor. If you don't
like it, go to another professor or University. And do not live with the
assumption that you know better what to do. If you feel that way, change
your professor. You might be right, who knows?
At 10:22 AM 9/16/2000 -500, Rosan Chow wrote:
>Thank you all for the discussion regarding the design canon's'. As usual,
I have only
>questions that I would like you to help me with. If my questions are
'wrong' or 'useless',
>please tell me, and better still tell me why.
>Is the suggestion to 'read di versely and critically' a easy way out of
>discussion of canon? Are 'core books' and 'core texts' more
politically-correct terms for
>'canon'? If they are, are these just a disguise or a shield to avoid
attacks on a particular
>canon? Stretch i ng this further, is this to avoid the examination of the
>priori on which the canon is based (refer to David Sless' comments)?
>I appreciate everything that have been said about the pros and cons of a
>canon as a tool for commun ication and reflection, the danger of agenda
setting and the
>importance of pluralism and diversity. While I was listening to the
discussion, I felt like
>I was standing on a crossroad. But if I want to get somewhere, I need a
point of a
>departure. I fee l a need to make a decision into which ideas I should
buy, without a
>decision I can never find out if I am right or wrong, or worse, I can't
change my mind. I
>need a canon!
>Everybody is egocentric, as my psychology teacher likes to say. The danger
of d en ying
>oneself being egocentric is that one doesn't examine the subjective self.
I see this as a
>parallel to the denial of a canon, a denial of our subjective beliefs and
values which go
>Thus my questions.
>Grad uate Student
>College of Design
>North Carolina State University