Internationalizing an Interior Design Course: A Model for Global FCS Curricula

Article excerpt

Accreditation for Family and Consumer Sciences and for Interior Design programs includes standards to globalize education of undergraduate students. An integrative approach to planning curriculum relates the concept of global interdependence to the development of critical thinking skills for student decision-making. This was addressed in modifying a university level construction course for interior design, connecting global methods to more sustainable building solutions. The revised instructional content is proposed as a course model that links student research and teamwork to content applications, demonstrating resource management and cultural diversity through sustainable projects.

Education in today's global community must begin with an understanding of the forces and issues that contribute to diverse applications of methodologies, when engaging in family and consumer sciences (FCS)-related practices. Enhancing curricula with international content supports the multidisciplinary aspects of the field while integrating diversity and understanding. Leaders in post-secondary education recognize that international experiences, beyond those of study abroad programs, are vital to formal education (Kucko, Prestwood, & Beacham, 2005). Curricula that include international education provide an integral component of undergraduate study, aligning well with government policy enacted under President Clinton (Clinton, 2000) supporting educators in helping students understand other nations and their cultures.

The American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) accreditation standards specify, under Standard 2, that the body of knowledge for instructional programs includes cross-cutting themes, two of which are "b. Global interdependence"and "c. Resource development and sustainability" (AAFCS, 2010, p. 57). Management of resources to protect the environment is recommended through the promotion of sustainable practices and creation of public policy. For interior design, globalization is addressed by CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation, 2008) in seeking a "Global Context for Design" with entry-level designers who "have a global view and weigh design decisions within the parameters of ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts" (p. 11). In addition, the national standards for FCS education, developed by the National Association of State Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS) for the purpose of providing a program framework for secondary education address helping individuals and families to "manage the challenges of living and working in a diverse global society" (NASAFACS, 2008). Standards are outlined for the different areas of study and references to global views, environmental issues, resource conservation, and safety are included in many of these. Content standard 11.2 in the area of Housing and Interior Design states, "Evaluate housing and design concepts and theories, including green design, in relation to available resources and options" (NASAFACS, 2008).

To better align with these standards and Goal IV of our University's strategic plan to "provide its students, faculty, and staff with international experiences, perspectives, and competencies" and the strategy to "Integrate international components into the curriculum" (San Francisco State University, 2005), the interior design construction course, The Housing Structure and Its Component Parts, was chosen for revision. Course objectives include providing students with in-depth information on building components, methods, and how they comprise building systems. This course was chosen because it offered a basis for examining local construction systems in comparison to methods, materials, and cultural designs of other countries while strengthening student perspectives and understanding of sustainable design. Students engage in team activities and research global perspectives to help formulate design ideas and assimilate new concepts into their application projects. …