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Research integral to development, says EIT IDEAschool lecturer

July 1, 2022

IDEAschool Design Lecturer James Smith

In this feature we interview staff members who have been identified as Early Career Researchers. In the spotlight is James Smith, Design Lecturer in EIT’s IDEASchool.

What is your highest qualification and where and when did you finish it?

I hold a Masters of Design from AUT University, which I completed in June 2018. My supervisors were Sue Jowsey (School of Art and Design) and Dr Claudio Aguayo (Te Ara Poutama – Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Development). The research was a practice based design project entitled: ‘Kō Rimurimu ‘To Be Covered in Seaweed’ – Sensory Knowing, Holistic Understanding, and Meaningful Encounters within a Marine Science Centre’.

Are you currently completing any other post graduate programmes?

Not currently, although I am preparing to begin a PhD at the beginning of next year.

What is your role at EIT and what courses do you teach?

I’m a lecturer in the design programme in the IDEAschool at EIT. I teach on all levels of the Bachelors of Creative Practice design courses (levels 5-7). These include classes on 2D and 3D design fundamentals, design/creative thinking and process, contextual studies (design history, theory, and critical studies) and design studio briefs.

What areas do you specialise in?

I specialise in graphic and digital design (design for print, apps, websites, and other emerging mediums such as Virtual and Augmented Reality) and design thinking and creative process. As well as this, I’m interested in design-based research into educational technology for meaningful learning, indigenous and global South epistemologies, and global South design methodologies. I’m particularly interested in the potential of design practice and thinking to positively contribute to solving and alleviating ‘wicked problems’ (such as climate change, and other complex and interrelated social, environmental, and economic issues).

What research have you been involved in either last year or this year (please give details)?

Over the past year I have been involved in a number of research projects and outputs. These have included conference presentations (two presentations at Link Symposium 2021 and one at SoTEL 2022), my first published peer reviewed international journal article (entitled ‘Combining 2D and 3D Design Fundamentals to Foster Systems Thinking in Design Students: Reflections and Case Studies from an Interdisciplinary Design Degree’ in Revista Geminis, Brazil), along with various other creative outputs. These have included an animation series for migrant and refugee children to teach them about Tikanga Māori principles, educational apps and websites, and various other video and music projects.

For examples of my published academic work see: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James-Smith-Harvey

And for my design practice: https://www.jamesharveysmith.com/

How important is research to you as an academic?

Research is integral to my development as an academic. Enquiry and exploration informs my practice as both an educator and designer and gives me the ability to foster and take on board new insights, knowledge and approaches. It is a vital part of how I continually improve, allowing me to stay up to date with new knowledge, technology and ideas, stay relevant to my students, and foster my curiosity and enthusiasm.

How supportive is EIT in encouraging you to do research?

EIT has been incredibly supportive of my research practice and encouraging of new ideas and initiatives I have proposed. Events such as a formal welcome morning tea from the heads of research and meet and greets with other early career researchers at the institution have been helpful and provided opportunities for collaboration. In general as well, I have received much encouragement, assistance, and allowance of time to work on research projects from the research centre, my dean, programme coordinator, and head of school.