Design is a transformative, socially engaged practice and design education must provide a platform from which that practice can grow. Education plays a vital role in preparing design students to move beyond a purely reactive state to one in which they are actively engaged in shaping the world around them. Such a shift is built upon the provision of a holistic education that invites interaction with the concepts of democracy, engagement and empathy at the global scale. At a time when our graduates need to be prepared for global citizenship and design without borders, higher education has moved sharply toward discipline specific training and job preparation and away from liberal education and the development of critical thinking abilities.
The internationalisation of education in design disciplines is reliant upon the formation of deep connections that are an embedded part of a student's larger academic career, rather than an isolated opportunity. Rather than focus on ‘exposure’, the internationalised education that design students need includes deep immersion and diverse contact in order to transform the study abroad tour into a layer of embedded experience rather than an artificial veneer. As students develop relationships with students from other cultures and experience the richness of others, they explore their own knowledges, values and assumptions. While all design graduates will live and work in a global environment, not all students are able to study abroad. Therefore, alternative opportunities for internationalising the curriculum must be explored.