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PHD-DESIGN  February 2007

PHD-DESIGN February 2007

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Subject:

Re: what is a masters thesis?

From:

Chris Rust <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Chris Rust <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 18 Feb 2007 15:12:11 +0000

Content-Type:

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Swanson, Gunnar wrote:
> Chris tells us that "a Masters degree with an ambitious main project . . . is a very good incubator for future Doctoral students" but the masters degree being discussed here--an MFA--is not a way stop on the way to the "real" degree. It is the terminal studio degree in the US. 
>
> It is great if any experience leads to new vistas but are you advocating forming the major degree requirements around hopes that someone would like to take another direction? Should JD and MD degrees be reworked in hopes that lawyers and physicians will become criminology and physiology researchers?
Hi Gunnar,
I'm tempted to say yes. In fact I would give a qualified yes - if we 
don't hold open the option that our best students may encounter new 
opportunities in their studies, and allow for more than one outcome to a 
degree, we are failing them and failing our professions. The fact that 
students first become aware of research during Masters study indicates 
that we have to enable them to go further as researchers if they wish.  
Many of the best design research students that I work with all started 
MA study with the intention of advancing their professional skills but 
saw new opportunities in research before they finished their MA, I don't 
apologise for the fact that some of them have gained doctorates and jobs 
in universities as a result of owning significant new knowledge.

But the proper answer is that this is an international forum and it is 
concerned first with doctoral study and research. I answered the 
question asked with an account of my own experience and issues that I 
feel are relevant to Masters study in the UK. Others can use that 
information as they wish. However the guidance I quoted from Phil Agre 
is coming from a US position and the fact that it seems to dovetail with 
my understanding of progressive practice in my country seems to be 
interesting. Maybe I'm lucky to be in a country where academic 
structures are quite fluid so we can re-invent ourselves, and it has 
been said before that the UK is good at developing new approaches but 
may suffer from a loss of quality control at the margins whereas the US 
is very well-controlled but maybe, as a result, slow in validating new 
academic programs.

We've had a discussion recently on this list about programs in the US 
(and elsewhere I am sure) which do not encourage an enquiring or 
critical approach to Graphic Design. It seems to me that a more 
integrated approach that encouraged students to engage with the kind of 
critical thinking we expect from researchers would not do any harm at 
all. If you want an example of how things could be different, I have 
been impressed by the way that Frank Cronk, Jill Dacey, Colleen Taugher 
and their colleagues at University of Idaho have developed an approach 
to interpreting scientific data that started as a new work opportunity 
for graphic design graduates and went on to become a genuine partnership 
between designers and scientists in understanding and interpreting the 
data that scientists were producing.

best wishes from Sheffield
Chris

********************
Professor Chris Rust
Head of Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University
Psalter Lane, S11 8UZ, UK
+44 114 225 2706 (direct)
+44 114 225 2686 (research admin)
[log in to unmask]
www.chrisrust.net




Swanson, Gunnar wrote:
> Chris tells us that "a Masters degree with an ambitious main project . . . is a very good incubator for future Doctoral students" but the masters degree being discussed here--an MFA--is not a way stop on the way to the "real" degree. It is the terminal studio degree in the US. 
>
> It is great if any experience leads to new vistas but are you advocating forming the major degree requirements around hopes that someone would like to take another direction? Should JD and MD degrees be reworked in hopes that lawyers and physicians will become criminology and physiology researchers?
>
> Gunnar
> ----------
> Gunnar Swanson Design Office
> 1910 East 6th Street
> Greenville, North Carolina 27858
> USA
>
> [log in to unmask]
> +1 252 258 7006
>
> http://www.gunnarswanson.com
>
> at East Carolina University:
> [log in to unmask]
> +1 252 328 2839
>
>
>   

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