I agree with Oliver Haas's view that a designer may take a Ph.D. in many
subjects, not merely a doctorate in design. There are, nevertheless, three
provocative issues in his post to the list.
This list was not established as a general forum for discussing all the
issues that might be involved in designers undertaking doctoral work. The
list was established after the 1998 Ohio State University Conference on
doctoral education in design. The specific purpose of the list is to
consider issues related to the Ph.D. in design. The welcome message we
received on subscribing reads:
Welcome to the PhD-Design discussion list.
This discussion list has been established for the exchange of
views and information about research training leading to the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Design and cognate
The term 'design' is identified here principally with the
following fields: industrial, interior, theatre, automotive,
furniture, graphic, multimedia, jewellery, fashion, and textile
design, together with design management, crafts, ceramics and
The genesis for this discussion was an international conference
titled "Doctoral Education in Design" held at the Ohio State
University, USA, in October 1998. Delegates felt that the
business of the conference might best be continued by email
discussion in the intervals between future conferences.
It seems to me that the discussion may become livelier and broader because
of the La Clusaz conference. There is nothing wrong with discussing the
subject of designers who take a Ph.D. OUTSIDE design. While it isn't the
list subject, it should probably be included here regardless. It is fair to
point out that Lubomir was discussing the list subject, the Ph.D. IN design.
As it is, I don't think Lubomir has driven anyone away. This has always
been a quiet list. In the year and a half from November 1998 to March 2000,
the list received 70 messages. April 2000 was unusual, with the highest
number of posts ever, 24 messages. Nevertheless, it's a quiet list. If
anyone has something serious to say, nothing Lubomir has written should
have intimidated him or her.
Most important, Lubomir never wrote that designers should not earn Ph.D.
degrees. He distinguished between a doctorate in design practice such as
the degree offered at Harvard University and a philosophical doctorate in
the subject of design.
Lubomir Popov is himself a practicing designer and engineer. He is also a
research scholar. One issue that Lubomir raises in the debates here and on
DRS is a call for clarity of distinctions.
Those of us who are practicing artists and designers ought to welcome a
colleague who raises useful distinctions. Like Lubomir, I am one of this
group. I appreciate his distinctions. It seems to me that those of us who
have earned our Ph.D. in other fields have nothing to fear from
distinctions. Like Oliver, I am also a member of this group.
Nothing in Lubomir's comments suggests that professional practitioners
should not earn the Ph.D.
Lubomir simply states that WHEN a professional practitioner earns a Ph.D.,
it ought to be a philosophical doctorate with all that the Ph.D. implies.
He distinguishes this from the doctorate in professional practice.