Transformative learning for a shift towards sustainability in Thailand's design education

Chotiratanapinun, Treechada. 2018. Transformative learning for a shift towards sustainability in Thailand's design education. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In Thailand, design for sustainability is still in its early days. This research explored the education aspect of this phenomenon by looking at its three nested levels of design education – the educational paradigm, organisation and management of the learning environment, and learning and pedagogy. These nested contexts lead to three key research questions. Is a paradigm shift towards sustainability in Thailand's design education plausible and able to be put into practice? Could education for sustainable development (ESD) be embedded into Thailand’s design education through Bonnett’s (2002) ‘frame of mind’ concept? And, can dissemination of transformative learning be a critical strategy for teaching sustainability to design students in Thailand? The study provided data concerning the current education paradigm, curriculum management, role of sustainable design pedagogy in higher education, and other insights into a broader picture of the relationship between design education and industries. At the heart of the research was the participatory action research (PAR) process, with curriculum interventions grounded in whole systems thinking and aiming to unfold if transformative learning can help in facilitating a shift in learners’ perspective away from a mechanistic worldview. The interventions were designed and developed based on ‘the inside-out approach’, well linked to the Buddhist tradition and the concept of education for sustainability as a frame of mind. Focus group discussion with designers, classroom observations prior to the interventions, post-intervention student focus group discussions and interviews with policy-makers, educators with management responsibilities and sustainable design educators were also carried out. The key findings reveal the gap between sustainability-related rhetoric and practices at multiple levels, the lack of shared values on sustainability among stakeholders of Thai design education, the association between seniority and the Thai concept of change, and the practicality and effectiveness of transformative sustainability learning when implemented with various groups of Thai design students.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


sustainability, design education, sustainable design, transformative learning, pedagogy, curriculum, participatory action research, Thailand

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 March 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 May 2018 16:14

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:06


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