In March, Assistant Professor Sarah Boehm presented “Encouraging cultural competence through effective empathy” at the Interior Design Educators Council 2015 Annual Conference. The presentation was part of the post-conference Journal of Interior Design Symposium.
The theme for the IDEC 2015 conference was “Catalyst of Innovation.” The Annual Conference gathered the interior design industry, including leaders of interior design firms, interior design practitioners, design firm representatives, industry partners, publishers and both educators and students at universities, colleges and interior design schools. This year’s conference was held in Fort Worth, Texas. Next year, the 2016 Annual Conference will take place March 9-13 in Portland, Oregon. (Source: IDEC)
Clearly defining cultural competence in relation to interior design education is the first step toward embracing such a paradigm. A culturally competent interior designer must know, understand, and appreciate a variety of cultures and viewpoints. Professor Boehm’s paper advances the idea that teaching an empathic approach to design, one which includes immersive research methods, could promote cultural competence in interior design students. Such an approach will allow more culturally appropriate applications of designers’ knowledge, values, and skills, as governed by empathy, when designing in a global market. To achieve this, educators must infuse empathy-cultivating activities throughout the curriculum to shape culturally competent, global-minded citizens. Such activities can provide ample opportunities for students to break away from their own cultural boundaries and genuinely understand users of space from a wide variety of perspectives. Boehm’s paper illustrates selected empathy-cultivating activities that have the potential to shape culturally-sensitive globally minded interior designers.