Throughout the 2012-2013 year, I conducted a collaborative project with my colleague, Kelly Murdoch–Kitt, on intercultural design exchanges in the University classroom.

It is our belief that design educators must learn to develop and lead successful intercultural projects and exchanges for students entering into a globally connected and diverse profession. Teaching students to approach problems by using collaborative and interpersonal skills can provide them with durable assets to better understand international audiences, colleagues, and perspectives. The proliferation and integration of first-hand cross-cultural experiences into design curricula can result in innovation and knowledge sharing, indicating synergistic properties in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Our research explores how collaborations between geographically separate design students in San Francisco, California, USA and Dubai, UAE—mediated by virtual communication—can impact learning, cultural awareness, and audience sensitivity. The two distinct courses challenge students to work together in teams, understand a range of audiences, give and receive critical feedback, exchange projects, and respond with culturally sensitive design solutions.

Based on our presentation at the DRS//Cumulus Oslo 2013 Conference, we were invited to write a journal article about the rationale, methods and design-related outcomes of our series of collaborations to encourage design educators to develop cross-cultural methods in their own classrooms.

The resulting journal article is published in the Studies in Material Thinking: Re/materialising Design Education Futures (No.11.) as: “Design nexus: Integrating cross–cultural learning experiences into graphic design education.”