Re-imagining Fashion and Textiles Education: A UK Higher Education perspective of the opportunities and challenges for the discipline and students




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The global pandemic and subsequent need to move practical studio-based fashion and textile course content rapidly to an online format has provided a challenge and an opportunity to reconsider the curriculum delivery of practical design degrees. This paper will consider how this pivot has led school leads to reconsider the curriculum in terms of the balance between delivering the practical skills, knowledge and understanding for manufacturing and the cultural context, the conceptual aspects, materials and process knowledge, design research and design development methods. This paper will first consider the development process. Then it will assess the initial adaption of practical sessions to online teaching. It will consider the meaningful impact and benefits of the online pivot from a staff and student perspective and the future vision. Finally, the paper will consider the rapid learning curve necessary for academic and technical colleagues to overcome the challenges of Covid to create certainty and direction for students; a vibrant learning community, whilst recognising the positive impact of the pandemic. Key initiatives have included using workbooks to create certainty for the students linked to the virtual learning environment where academics have a rich repository of learning resources; community and wellbeing through creating a regular on line Art Club for academics and students to jointly connect with creativity outside the curriculum and retain practical skills; curriculum enhancement through virtual travel to workshops with industry experts, enhanced digital skills for academics and students and enriched curriculum with a focus on sustainability, technology and responsible design. This paper concludes that the pandemic is an opportunity for a different way of working, a broader curriculum and co-creation opportunities for staff and students. It is a crucial time for fashion and textiles educators to seize the opportunity to reimagine, combining the optimum attributes of a practice-based studio culture with a broader curriculum delivered in a blended approach, and equip students and graduates with relevance and responsibility to respond to the needs of a changing industry.



Equality and inclusion, participatory design, responsible academics


Penfold, B. and Hardaker, C.H.M, (2021) Re-imagining Fashion and Textiles Education: A UK Higher Education perspective of the opportunities and challenges for the discipline and students. IFFTI2021 Conference proceedings


Research Institute

Institute of Art and Design