Design Otherwise: Towards a Locally-Centric Design Education Curricula in Jordan (PhD research)

I completed my PhD, titled Design Otherwise: Towards a Locally-Centric Design Education Curricula in Jordan, in the Design Department at Goldsmiths, University of London under the supervision of Professor Kay Stables. The abstract can be found below. If you would like a PDF copy of the thesis, please send me an email.


This research considers the possibility of a locally-centric design education curricula in Amman, Jordan by investigating the philosophies, theories, practices and models of curriculum and pedagogy most appropriate for design education. It describes perceptions of design and examines the possibilities for shifting these perceptions to move towards transforming design education.

Jordan is a neopatriarchal society, and education re-enacts the dominant structures of the state within curriculum and pedagogy centred on the authority of the educator. This thesis argues for a decolonised design education based on a student-centred pedagogy drawn from the process and praxis curriculum models—a design education and design otherwise. Working with a range of designers, students and educators, it investigates the potential of these actors to contribute to the development of a pedagogy for design education in Jordan that is relevant to the milieu and locality. It poses the following questions: What philosophies, theories, practices, models of curriculum, and pedagogy are appropriate?; What potential shifts could this require and create?; How do we shift perceptions?

This qualitative research uses interviews, focus groups, and design charrettes for data collection. Through participation and engagement with people that have most at stake in design education—designers, design educators and design students—I argue for an emancipatory design education that reflects on design beyond its traditional service-provider definition. Drawing on scholarship from design and education studies, and literature from fields such as history, decolonial studies, architecture and urbanism, political science, economics and philosophy, I argue for a curriculum model and student-centred pedagogy that considers design’s role in society.

Literature on Arab higher education is preoccupied with reforms to help the Arab region build a knowledge-society without considering the role of curriculum models and pedagogy nor addressing power structures. In addition, within design, little literature exists on the Arab region or Jordan, leaving its design culture(s) largely undocumented. My thesis investigates design education in higher education in Jordan by concentrating on models of pedagogy and curriculum and provides an overview of Jordan’s contemporary design culture.
Danah Abdulla・2018