AUS graduates discuss the future of design education and the creative scene in the region

Aya Hussain

768 The College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah is organizing the occasion of 25 A year since the university established a series of seminars that focus on celebrating the contributions of male and female alumni of the college and learning more about the future of education in the field of design. The series is supervised by Dr. Kevin Mitchell, Professor of Architecture, Hala Al-Ani, Assistant Professor of Art and Design, and Dr. John Montague, Associate Professor of Architecture at the University.

The next symposium is scheduled to be held, under the title “The College of Architecture, Art and Design at the Twenty-fifth: Preparing for the Future” on Saturday corresponding to 18 March from 4: p.m. to 7: in the evening, and it is available to university students and members of its teaching and administrative staff.

The symposium was The first in this series, which came under the title “The College of Architecture, Art and Design at the Twenty-fifth: A Self Review”, was held in 18 January 2023 and included two panel discussions moderated by Dr. Mitchell, which looked at the significant achievements and contributions made by the college’s alumni over the past years and the extent to which the design sector and the creative economy have grown and developed within the UAE and the region.

Dr. Mitchell said: “We are very proud of what our alumni have accomplished The College of Architecture, Art and Design in and out of their majors. Critical discussions and debates about their experiences are invaluable, as they provide perspectives on how we can continue to enhance teaching and learning in ways that remain academically rigorous, yet flexible, labor market-oriented and relevant to the region.” The first episode of the symposium, which was titled “Interdisciplinarity”, discussed issues related to the factors that determine success in the field of design. Alumni Adnan Ihsan, Rabia Jabbar, Mustafa Zakaria, and Fatima Al-Feki discussed aspects related to the transition from university to the labor market, and discussed the challenges they faced in their professional lives.

In their talk about the basics of their success to be leaders in their fields of specialization, the graduates spoke about the role of the American University of Sharjah and the College of Architecture, Art and Design in preparing them to work in a collaborative environment, to express their ideas effectively, and to enter into unfamiliar experiences and benefit from of criticism by distinguishing who they are from the work they do. The episode discussed ways in which education should continue to maintain a balance between favoring the design process and preparing students for their majors while at the same time.

(And in the second episode of the symposium, which was titled “Post-Disciplinarities,” graduates Farah Al-Rafei, Mays Al-Beik, Maryam Muzaffar and Haifa Malhas participated to talk about the role that design education plays in preparing students for what goes beyond their majors.)

The participants, who embarked on artistic fields and made contributions that went beyond their university majors, expressed the excellence of the educational process in the College of Architecture, Art and Design – including the appreciation of handicrafts and focus on a strong problem-solving approach – which made it possible to apply the skills they learned in many areas. Speaking about the future of design education, the speakers emphasized the importance of addressing local concerns and acknowledging the rich and diverse history of the creative and cultural scene in the region.