ReSRC Simple Example

Prac­tice in research

2016 – present

Gen­er­a­tive Art for Schools


How Might Gen­er­a­tive Art Be A Propo­si­tion For Cross Cur­ric­u­lar Learn­ing In Schools


Com­put­ing is the dom­i­nant media of our times and a cul­tural arti­fact; gen­er­a­tive art is a sub­ject to make art and tech­nol­ogy rel­e­vant to young people’s expe­ri­ences and bring art and the Stem sub­jects closer together as a value propo­si­tion for Steam. Gen­er­a­tive art, the cre­ation of visual and aes­thetic form using com­puter pro­gram­ming, pro­motes the value of cre­ativ­ity and the cre­ative indus­tries within edu­ca­tion to art, design and the core sci­ence sub­jects. It can also address the gen­der gap in Stem. It makes the sci­en­tific become the organic and can be used for young peo­ple to express them­selves, socially, polit­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally. Whilst there is a declin­ing uptake in GCSE art and design, arguably being not sup­ported by the incom­ing EBacc cur­ricu­lum, com­puter sci­ence forms part of the core sci­ence sub­jects. Pol­icy mak­ers are insis­tent that every child learns to code, but code what? 1417 year olds, dubbed by the media in the UK as the “Gen Z’s” view learn­ing com­puter sci­ence as bor­ing, for the geeks and male dom­i­nated. Gen­er­a­tive art is a fun and approach­able way of teach­ing pro­gram­ming and fits the cur­ricu­lum as an exten­sion of exist­ing units of enquiry.

The con­text of this arti­cle intended to offer in some way a roadmap of how might we as prac­ti­tion­ers, researchers and edu­ca­tors pre­pare young peo­ple for work in the fore­see­able future. In order to avoid a tal­ent pool cri­sis, both the designer and the tech­nol­o­gist are needed. Gen art may go some way to intro­duc­ing these areas of prac­tice with the intent of a broad under­stand­ing and empa­thy span­ning Stem, art and design.

So, what exactly is gen art and how can it be applied to learn­ing in the class­room? Gen art is not built with plans, mate­ri­als or an objec­tive out­come. It is grown and cul­ti­vated like a tree or flower, emerg­ing from sim­ple func­tions and math­e­mat­ics. The art of the cre­ation of the organic from the log­i­cal. William Blake’s paint­ing of New­ton hav­ing his back turned to the nat­ural world in favour of “sci­ence” (his com­passes) is a com­mon inter­pre­ta­tion of logic. Gen art can be viewed as New­ton turned round; order vs chaos, which applies rather well to cre­ative cod­ing. Gen art can imi­tate nature and break lin­ear nar­ra­tion cre­at­ing a fluid, non-​repeating world.

Fig­ure 1: New­ton (17951805) by William Blake. Col­lec­tion Tate Britain.

The cur­rent situation

To offer some back­ground con­text it is worth review­ing the cur­rent gen­eral lack of sat­is­fac­tion of art and design teach­ing, both from teach­ers and stu­dents in the national cur­ricu­lum. Stu­dents opt­ing for design and tech­nol­ogy in schools at GCSE level has decreased from 440,000 in 2004 to less than 190,000 this year, an aver­age drop of 43% (JCQ 2016).

Ged Gast, Imme­di­ate Past Pres­i­dent of NSEAD, claims the cur­rent cur­ricu­lum is a major fac­tor in the declin­ing pipeline of young peo­ple needed to fill the UK’s cre­ative indus­tries tal­ent pool. “Owing in the main to the national stan­dards agenda poli­cies dri­ven by the DfE and con­se­quence of the removal of the Cre­ative Diploma, reduc­tions in applied learn­ing, EBacc, Acad­emi­sa­tion and gen­eral dis­re­gard for the value of cre­ativ­ity and cre­ative indus­tries pro­moted within edu­ca­tion in Britain at the moment. This has impacted on the num­bers com­ing through to study and appears to be nar­row­ing the pipeline into HE from schools and FE at the moment”

Gov­ern­ment is telling us to code, but code exactly what? How do we nur­ture young peo­ple to visu­alise, think and under­stand cre­ativ­ity cod­ing in a world where more and more young peo­ple limit them­selves to be just being pas­sive “users” of tech­nol­ogy and have no idea what is under the bon­net. This raises the ques­tion that the cur­rent pro­vi­sions for pro­gram­ming and are miss­ing the point. In short, it’s a male dom­i­nated bor­ing sub­ject. There are many com­puter sci­ence under­grad­u­ates who echo this view. So how do we turn on stu­dents, from users into cre­ative coders and dig­i­tal artists who can express them­selves socially polit­i­cally and economically?

Young peo­ple see tech­nol­ogy and cre­ativ­ity as impor­tant facets of their iden­tity. A report by Adobe pub­lished in Octo­ber 2016 shows UK 1417 year olds, dubbed by the media “Gen Z” learns best by doing and creating.

Towards a solution

In Jan­u­ary 2017 the gov­ern­ment pub­lished its Indus­trial Strat­egy green paper which was met with muted praise. In response to this, the Cre­ative Indus­tries Foun­da­tion com­mented that the cre­ative indus­tries would be one of five named sec­tors in the new indus­trial strat­egy was a major step for­ward for a sec­tor which has never been for­mally recog­nised in a national indus­trial strat­egy before. This is a step in the right direc­tion and one would hope that teach­ing tech­nol­ogy, art and design (the basic build­ing blocks of cre­ative prac­tice) should now fall into line with this pol­icy. So why not use gen art as sub­ject to nur­ture these skills. Simon Katan from the Depart­ment of Com­put­ing, Gold­smiths view is the teach­ing of gen­er­a­tive draw­ing tech­niques make for an ideal intro­duc­tion to cre­ative pro­gram­ming. Learn­ing these skills not only gives an intu­itive insight into the power of com­pu­ta­tion and its expres­sive poten­tial, but also brings together con­cepts from across the curriculum.

Given art is sub­jec­tive, com­put­ing is objec­tive; gen art is the point where the two should meet. We need more diverse stu­dents, bet­ter pre­pared stu­dents and make art feel more rel­e­vant. Gen art encour­ages, boys and girls to col­lab­o­rate and brings the art teacher and com­put­ing teacher together.

Cur­rently, the two best exam­ples of gen art tools are Live­Code­Lab, devel­oped in Lon­don and p5js. Live­Code­Lab is inten­tion­ally designed to be imme­di­ately acces­si­ble to an audi­ence with low com­puter lit­er­acy. p5js is a com­mu­nity inter­ested in explor­ing the cre­ation of art and design with tech­nol­ogy by using the orig­i­nal metaphor of a soft­ware sketch­book. Both tools can pro­vide units of enquiry to young peo­ple inter­ested in cod­ing and the arts, design and tech­nol­ogy. There is no rea­son why this can not be taught from Key Stage 3 (79 yr olds) upwards.

Live­Code­Lab has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the bur­geon­ing “algo­rave” cul­ture. The expe­ri­ence of writ­ing sim­ple lines of code and see­ing results appear imme­di­ately are immensely pow­er­ful. LiveCodeLab’s frame­work of a JavaScript engine run­ning stun­ning graphic visu­als and sample-​based audio sequenc­ing is a per­fect exam­ple of art and sci­ence learn­ing (the devel­op­ers ago­nised over the choice of type­face for the front end code). The code is as much of the live per­for­mance as the real-​time 3d visu­als and music. The abil­ity to do quick dive cod­ing with no pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence allows for a com­pelling play, learn and make experience.

The much larger p5js project has been devel­oped by a com­mu­nity of col­lab­o­ra­tors, headed by Lau­ren McCarthy and funded by Pro­cess­ing Foun­da­tion and NYU ITP. It is JavaScript library based on the core of Pro­cess­ing, so basi­cally you can do every­thing in Pro­cess­ing, now with html ele­ments over the web, such as sim­u­la­tion algo­rithms, open data and APIs. It is an ideal plat­form to deliver Steam learn­ing and offers stu­dents the abil­ity to pre­pare for Higher Edu­ca­tion sub­jects in either dig­i­tal visual arts or com­puter science.

Cur­rently only a hand­ful of UK schools are run­ning gen art courses. As exactly how to develop ideas and tech­niques for deliv­er­ing this the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal con­tent in the class­room remains to be seen. What is cur­rently lack­ing in schools is a cohe­sive strat­egy between com­put­ing and art teach­ers. Con­sid­er­ing only basic pro­gram­ming knowl­edge needed to cre­ate high impact, non-​linear visual art through cod­ing, this is a great oppor­tu­nity for Stem and the arts to work closer together. Both the logic behind the cod­ing and the aes­thetic out­comes should be reviewed for crit­i­cal analy­sis and rig­or­ous inves­ti­ga­tion into how the out­come was achieved, rather than exam­in­ing the out­come based on a set of pre-​defined parameters.

Pilot stud­ies ran in part­ner­ship with Com­put­ing At Schools (CAS) com­mu­nity and Gold­smiths Cre­ative and Dig­i­tal Arts BSc course lead­ers in Lewisham last year revealed teach­ing gen­er­a­tive art had the sup­port of sci­ence and arts teach­ers, and stu­dents. Through prac­ti­cal and cre­ative exper­i­men­ta­tion stu­dents can enhance their under­stand­ing on a range of top­ics from across the cur­ricu­lum includ­ing 2D and 3D geom­e­try, abstrac­tion in art, New­ton­ian physics, evo­lu­tion­ary the­ory, prob­a­bil­i­ties and ecosystems.

Fig­ure 5: Back­ground, Rotate, Box. Sim­ple. www​.live​code​lab​.net
Fig­ure 4: Pri­mary and Sec­ondary school teach­ers learn­ing gen art at Gold­smiths.


GCSE assess­ments need to shift para­me­ters and focus on the tacit knowl­edge learn­ing out­comes that exist between form (of art and design) and func­tion (of pro­gram­ming). This will go some way to answer­ing the needs of future employ­ers who will need­ing a work­force equipped with a hybrid skillset of art, design, tech­nol­ogy and sci­ence: able to solve com­plex equa­tions and deliver con­cep­tual think­ing. Instead of mar­gin­al­is­ing cre­ative sub­jects, we should pro­vide young peo­ple with a mix of cre­ative and tech­ni­cal skills required for suc­cess. These add to the grow­ing clam­our for a sub­stan­tial change of direc­tion in education.

Chil­dren should expe­ri­ence tech­nol­ogy as the­atri­cal per­for­mance; the browser is a stage for cre­ative cod­ing; high impact, visu­ally rich artis­tic con­tent and the abil­ity to look under the hood of tech­nol­ogy. This envi­ron­ment should be encour­aged in schools to incu­bate the next gen­er­a­tion of artists, design­ers and engi­neers if the UK wants to remain a world leader in innovation.

The two gen art plat­forms dis­cussed here can be used in the class­room imme­di­ately. They cost noth­ing, are open source and thus have an unlim­ited scope for con­tri­bu­tions. They offer stu­dents unit of inquiry from the arts and sci­ences; it’s the glue between the two that is of inter­est and con­se­quence to all. Teach­ers from the arts and sci­ences should work closer together. None of this hap­pens with­out the kinetic energy between stu­dents and moti­vated teachers.

Fig­ure 3: The unsur­pass­able Daniel Shiff­man intro­duc­ing p5js. www​.hello​.p5js​.org


The author is indebted to Dr Simon Katan, Cre­ative Com­put­ing Pro­gramme Leader, Depart­ment of Com­put­ing, Gold­smiths; Ged Gast, Imme­di­ate Past Pres­i­dent NSEAD; Davide Della Casa and Guy John, Cre­ative Cod­ing Lab; Lau­ren McCarthy, NYU ITP; Eliza Eas­ton Deputy Head Research and Pol­icy, Cre­ative indus­tries Foun­da­tion and Ken Baynes.


  • Adobe Inc, “Gen Z in the Class­room, Cre­at­ing the Future”, Octo­ber 2016. http://​www​.adobee​d​u​cate​.com/​g​e​n​z​/​U​K​-​e​d​u​c​a​t​i​o​n​-​g​e​n​z
  • Archer, Baynes and Lang­don, “Design in Gen­eral Edu­ca­tion,” Royal Col­lege of Art, April 1979.
  • Ken Baynes, “Brex­u­ca­tion,” Lough­bor­ough Design Press, Octo­ber 2016. http://​www​.ldpress​.co​.uk/​b​r​e​x​u​c​a​t​i​o​n​-​b​y​-​k​e​n​-​b​a​y​n​e​s​/
  • Cre­ative Indus­tries Fed­er­a­tion, Jan­u­ary 2017. http://​www​.cre​ativein​dus​tries​fed​er​a​tion​.com
  • Della Casa, Davide, and Guy John. “Live­Code­Lab 2.0 and its lan­guage Live­Code­Lang.” 2014.
  • Joint Coun­cil for Qual­i­fi­ca­tions (JCQ) 2016
  • Sec­re­tary of State for Cul­ture, Media and Sport, “UK Dig­i­tal Strat­egy 2017 Pol­icy paper”, March 2017.
  • TOPLAP, 2010. https://​toplap​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​M​a​n​i​f​e​s​t​o​D​r​a​f​t

Enter your text here …

This arti­cle was orig­i­nally writ­ten for NSEAD AD mag­a­zine and pub­lished in Sep­tem­ber 2017

The­sis Abstract

Travelling to interview a Course Leader

How might the edu­ca­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion design stu­dents in the UK be fit for purpose?


With a focus on com­mu­ni­ca­tion design edu­ca­tion in the UK, this the­sis intends to answer the ques­tion of how and what can be done to bet­ter pre­pare stu­dents for pro­fes­sional prac­tice amidst par­a­digm shifts in gen­eral and higher edu­ca­tion. This research will be of inter­est pri­mar­ily to com­mu­ni­ca­tion design­ers in edu­ca­tion, and cre­ative indus­try pol­icy stake­hold­ers. I intend to pro­duce an orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tion to knowl­edge for action whereby devel­op­ing practice-​relevant the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal knowl­edge can influ­ence these cur­rent par­a­digm shifts. I argue, through my hypoth­e­sis, that under­grad­u­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tion design courses can not be expected to meet the changes of pro­fes­sional design prac­tices to a rea­son­able thresh­old due to a fun­da­men­tal lack of under­stand­ing of what com­mu­ni­ca­tion design edu­ca­tion should be doing at pol­icy and indus­try lev­els. Under­pin­ning this hypoth­e­sis are 3 sup­po­si­tions: firstly, I argue that there should be a refresh­ment of how year 1 course mate­r­ial is deliv­ered to fit the trend in declin­ing apti­tude from stu­dents enter­ing Higher edu­ca­tion via A level Art and Design, and to an extend foun­da­tion courses; sec­ondly, that in order to pre­pare for emerg­ing trends in pro­fes­sional prac­tice, stu­dents should be grounded in the prin­ci­ples of graphic design gestalt, irre­spec­tive of influ­ences from tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments and the cur­rent mis­nomer of design think­ing. And finally, that there needs to be more tac­ti­cal part­ner­ships with indus­try. My lit­er­a­ture review reveals insights into these areas using a selec­tion of the­o­ret­i­cal, research, prac­tice and pol­icy texts. I have inter­viewed 3 under­grad­u­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tion design course lead­ers who rep­re­sent Higher Edu­ca­tion Insti­tu­tions with a gold award Teach­ing Excel­lence Frame­work rank­ing. I have used Grounded The­ory Method­ol­ogy based on Cathy Char­maz and Tony Bryant’s meth­ods, to code, memo, and ana­lyze the research find­ings to posi­tion my gen­er­al­iz­able the­o­ret­i­cal state­ments and con­tex­tual analy­sis. In con­clu­sion, this the­sis reflects on the research process and presents rec­om­men­da­tions for fur­ther action based on the claims to new knowl­edge gained into this subject.


Com­mu­ni­ca­tion design, edu­ca­tion, graphic design theory




A Monoprint Sample
Fine art Fine Art Print­mak­ing by Gra­ham New­man

I am inter­ested in algo­rithms and the organic ephemera pro­duced by cre­at­ing gen­er­a­tive art and its rela­tion to the under­pin­ning prin­ci­ples of graphic design gestalt. As a mem­ber of the visual arts, graphic design shares many of the same con­cerns that affect and unite other art and design spe­cialisms. These con­cerns are known as the for­mal ele­ments. Cat­e­gorised at the Bauhaus School in the 1920s Ger­many, I cat­e­gorise these for­mal ele­ments as Point and Line, Shape, Tex­ture, Space, Form, Tone and Colour.

This is less about dig­i­tal art; much more about sub­vert­ing the tech­nol­ogy to some­thing that it’s not intend­ing to do – be hand printed on paper.

Cen­tral to visu­ally inves­ti­gat­ing this activ­ity is and how unique iter­a­tions of com­puter code can pro­duce graphic design gestalt in the phys­i­cal realm, and how these processes open up space for the con­struc­tion of gen­er­a­tive art nar­ra­tives which go on to offer a rad­i­cal cri­tique of repro­duc­ing the phys­i­cal from the dig­i­tal.

A Mono­print Sam­ple
, Autumn 2017

Edi­tion of 20
Print size: 12in W x 12in H
Paper size: 16in W x 16in H
Silkscreen printed on South Bank Smooth 310gsm paper at Print Club, Lon­don

This sam­ple edi­tion draws on the theme of exten­sive work with com­puter code within the con­text of Mod­ernist graphic design gestalt and its appli­ca­tion onto 12 inch record sleeves.



Black and metal­lic silver

Key­word Visu­al­i­sa­tion

Book Test Unit is a plat­form for inves­tiga­tive and cre­ative activ­ity in what the future of the book may be. Begin­ning in 2014, the first BTU group was a col­lab­o­ra­tion between stu­dents from MA pro­grammes in Visual Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Crit­i­cal Writ­ing in Art & Design and Curat­ing Con­tem­po­rary Art. Since then, the dis­cus­sions ini­ti­ated have been taken for­ward into its sec­ond incar­na­tion with stu­dents from the Visual Com­mu­ni­ca­tion MA and MRes pro­grammes. Embrac­ing the tur­bu­lence of change — the spirit of the inau­gural BTU — con­tin­ues here, from sug­ges­tions on the future of read­ing, trans­la­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion, into new dia­logues con­cern­ing new media and pol­i­tics, pub­lic and pri­vate, mem­ory and copy­right.

Pre­sented here is a seam­lessly flow­ing com­pi­la­tion of research on the nature and future of books and libraries, car­ried out by stu­dents at the Royal Col­lege of Art as part of Book Test Unit in the spring of 2017. The result of three months worth of dis­cus­sions, exhi­bi­tions and field trips, this is a book that seeks to embody, rather than merely present, the out­comes and dis­cov­er­ies made.

The future defies spec­u­la­tion. It is not utopia, nor any other pre­de­ter­mined endgame — it is an evo­lu­tion, shaped and refined all the time by our present thoughts and actions. When liv­ing through it the future ends up tak­ing us unawares, hav­ing missed its impe­tus. Only when look­ing back do we see exactly where, or when, it arrived.

Live Code Lab

Live Code Lab

We are all being told to teach our chil­dren how to code. But code what? Through­out the sum­mer I will be tweet­ing pro­gram­ming tips and tricks every day using the awe­some live code lab

Get your kids up and run­ning with cre­ative cod­ing! Live code lab is built by Davide Della Casa and Guy John in Lon­don. It’s free, and works in any browser.

head over to my tweets: @hackngit

Spec­u­la­tive design bot

Speculative design bot

A twit­ter­bot that uses trac­ery gram­mar, a story-​grammar gen­er­a­tion library for javascript. Tony Dunne writes in 2007:

The pri­mary pur­pose of crit­i­cal design is to make peo­ple think… For us, the inter­est­ing thing is to explore an issue, to fig­ure out how to turn it into a project, how to turn the project into some design ideas, how to mate­ri­alise those design ideas as pro­to­types, and finally, how to dis­sem­i­nate them through exhi­bi­tions and ideas.”

Link to the @SW7barguide

In addi­tion to tweet­ing reviews of the coolest, edgi­est, ironic-​est bars in SW7, the bot gen­er­ates a ran­dom SVG land­scape image; an exer­cise in using algo­rithms to draw. The SW7 is based on an project by Dann Hett

Aug­mented Real­ity

Augmented Reality

We spec­u­late that, if books were labelled with our AR graphic instead of a cat­a­logue num­ber, books would be eas­ily found when look­ing over the shelves (espe­cially in hard to reach places). We plan to attach a graphic to the end of each shelf which dis­plays a list of every book that resides there, plus one on the end of every book.

We pro­pose that our AR sys­tem would make nav­i­gat­ing an archive will become as easy as brows­ing the web. You only have to look at the boxes/​shelves to see what each con­tainer car­ries. No dig­ging around, no con­fu­sion, just a quick and easy process, allow­ing for more time research­ing the material.

With the new sys­tem, books will become inter­ac­tive. Images/​instructions/​explanations can spring from the page. Imag­ine if a researcher/​librarian was able to insert a book­mark with their find­ings and ideas about the con­tent, into the book, how use­ful that could be to future read­ers of the text. We could also visu­alise images such as archi­tec­tural struc­tures and plans, sculp­tures, skele­tons, atoms and com­pounds, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are endless.

Royal Col­lege of Art book futures

Royal College of Art book futures

The Royal Col­lege of Art’s Book Test Unit (BTU) is look­ing at the debate around how the book as an arte­fact for knowl­edge will func­tion in an increas­ingly tech depen­dent world. How and where is knowl­edge cre­ated and what pur­pose do phys­i­cal books and libraries as spaces to dis­sem­i­nate this knowl­edge serve.

BTU is a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­gram bring­ing MRes, MA and Crit­i­cal Writ­ing stu­dents together super­vised by Prof Teal Triggs and Robert Hetherington.

Fol­low­ing on from the Ecolo­gies of Pub­lish­ing Futures sym­po­sium that took place at the RCA in Novem­ber 2015, stu­dents will use their research skills, crit­i­cal reflec­tion and design think­ing to unpack the future of the book and develop ideas around look­ing, see­ing and reading.

The group will also be look­ing at the cred­i­bil­ity of the library as a com­mu­nity envi­ron­ment for learn­ing and shar­ing. Where is knowl­edge pro­duc­tion resid­ing and how might we use the library of the future to dis­trib­ute information.

BTU will be pub­lish­ing their research in a printed book and dig­i­tal plat­form sched­uled for late April. Fur­ther read­ing: RCA Book Test Unit

Key­word Visu­al­i­sa­tion

Keyword Visualisation

Visu­al­i­sa­tion of the MRes RCA key­words for Unit 2. The lay­out imple­ments the Reingold-​Tilford algo­rithm for effi­cient, tidy arrange­ment of lay­ered nodes. The depth of nodes is com­puted by dis­tance from the root, lead­ing to a ragged appear­ance. Carte­sian ori­en­ta­tions are also sup­ported. Imple­men­ta­tion based on work by Jeff Heer.

Research Poster

Research Poster

State­ment of intent
The cre­ative indus­tries is the UK’s fastest grow­ing eco­nomic sec­tor yet faces an uncer­tain future as GCSE design stu­dent num­bers con­tinue to decline. With this trend expected to con­tinue, ques­tions need to be raised at pol­icy level to avoid a tal­ent pool cri­sis beyond 2020: is the UK fully equip­ping the next gen­er­a­tion of design­ers for indus­try par­a­digm shift? Can there be a pos­i­tive out­look beyond the EU Brexit ref­er­en­dum and use its out­come to leave as a launch­pad to com­pete in the emerg­ing mar­ket of digi­tised manufacturing.

This research project does not intend to reignite the Stem/​Steam debate. Rather, the pri­mary focus is what’s beyond it; for design think­ing 2020 and pilot whether or not these aims have rel­e­vance to move for­ward and make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to a larger project. The research lan­guage and deliv­ery is intended for a non-​design audience.

Research ques­tion
What is the roadmap for cre­ative prac­tice and design edu­ca­tion beyond Stem/​Steam in the UK? Are we prepar­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of cre­ative tal­ent for the third indus­trial rev­o­lu­tion? Will the UK Brexit ref­er­en­dum be an enabler or an inhibitor for UK design think­ing 2020?

Grounded the­ory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) will be used for gath­er­ing and analysing qual­i­ta­tive data in the form of focus group, in-​depth inter­view and obser­va­tion. This method works in oppo­site to the pos­i­tivist tra­di­tion of research. Cress­well (1998) sug­gests that in using grounded the­ory; “The researcher has to set aside the­o­ret­i­cal ideas to allow a ‘sub­stan­tive’ the­ory to emerge.” Quan­ti­ta­tive (online sur­vey) data will sup­port the dis­cov­ered theory.

This approach intends to draw out the insights from the stake­hold­ers, and the cre­ative and tech­no­log­i­cal aspi­ra­tions of Gen Z stu­dents, and inves­ti­gate if there is a correlation.

Sec­ondary research will con­sist of review­ing his­tor­i­cal archives from the Design Research Soci­ety (DRS) and the RCA’s Depart­ment of Design Research (DDR). To con­tex­tu­alise the his­tor­i­cal and the cur­rent dis­cus­sion points, there will be ongo­ing cur­rent lit­er­a­ture reviews from the Depart­ment for Edu­ca­tion, Cre­ative Indus­tries Fed­er­a­tion and selected aca­d­e­mic journals.

Addi­tion­ally, prac­tice in research will con­sist of a web­site to dis­sem­i­nate key research meth­ods and insights: www​.design​think​ing2020​.com.

Eth­i­cal issues
The British Soci­o­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion code of ethics states, “Guar­an­tees of con­fi­den­tial­ity and anonymity given to research par­tic­i­pants must be hon­oured unless there are clear and over­rid­ing rea­sons to do oth­er­wise.” . This research project fore­sees no rea­son for respon­dent disclosure.

All respon­dents will sign a con­sent form before the inter­view, stat­ing their rights to con­fi­den­tial­ity, anonymity and, upon request, copies of the mate­ri­als gath­ered. Given, at any point dur­ing field­work a respon­dent may opt out.

Ini­tial find­ings
There is a rich his­tory of design think­ing for edu­ca­tion in the UK and it is timely to revisit the exten­sive work Bruce Archer (19222005), the DRS and DDR under­took in the mid 1970s in order to con­tex­tu­alise and might go some way to answer­ing the cur­rent issues.

Art and design in stu­dent uptake in schools at GCSE level has decreased from 440,000 in 2004 to less than 190,000 this year, an aver­age drop of 43%. [source: Joint Coun­cil for Qual­i­fi­ca­tions (JCQ). Design has been pushed aside in favour of Eng­lish, Math­e­mat­ics His­tory or Geog­ra­phy the sci­ences and a lan­guage viz the core sub­jects for the EBacc cur­ricu­lum. The first year of stu­dents to sit GCSE exams for the EBacc will be in 2020. Gen Z Stu­dents in the US con­sider cre­ativ­ity and tech­nol­ogy their defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics, learn best by doing/​creating, are only some­what pre­pared for their future and want more of a focus on cre­ativ­ity in the classroom.

Under Hori­zon 2020, the EU Frame­work Pro­gramme for Research and Inno­va­tion, Fac­to­ries of the Future (FoF) are using dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to trans­form OEM’s to retail stores in the “Third Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion.” The total bud­get in cur­rent prices for Hori­zon is nearly €80 billion.

Key ref­er­ences
Bruce Archer: “Time for a Rev­o­lu­tion in Art and Design Edu­ca­tion” 1978 and “The Nature of Research into Design and Design Edu­ca­tion.” 1992. Ken Fried­man: “Cre­at­ing Design Knowl­edge: From Research into Prac­tice.” 2000. Christo­pher Frayling: “Research in Art and Design (Royal Col­lege of Art Research Papers)” 1993. Andy Kirk: “Data Visu­al­i­sa­tion, A Hand­book for Data Dri­ven Design” 2016. Jon Kolko:“Design Think­ing Comes of Age.” Har­vard Busi­ness Review 93, no. 9 (Sep­tem­ber 2015). Kosk­i­nen, Ilpo Kalevi, ed: “Design Research Through Prac­tice: From the Lab, Field, and Show­room” 2011. Sharon Poggen­pohl: “Design Inte­gra­tions: Research and Col­lab­o­ra­tion” 2009.