Leadership tag is no fashion statement

I take the point that there is nothing wrong with the term “design management” when publicising courses at universities (Comment, DW 5 March). However, although “design leadership” may have a “fashionable” ring to it, the term does help to distinguish between variants on a particular theme.

Middlesex University, which has been running its MA Design Leadership programme for six years, targets the programme at working design professionals who have practical experience in the workplace. It must also be remembered that “design leadership” is used here to define a post-graduate programme which has a specialised focus. It is not a first degree that will be needed to be understood by “careers advisors or potential employers” in the same way that a first degree needs an identity.

Students selected on to the programme have to convince us that they have the necessary skills to take full advantage of the programme and that they will want to extend their repertoire of skills and develop their practice across a range of design management skills according to particular needs. Leadership, however, is a central and critical theme throughout all elements of the programme.

Practising designers are only too aware of the leadership role that designers can play in the workplace, but know, to their own chagrin, that for too long, designers in the UK have had to take a submissive role as far as any concept of leadership is concerned. Most applicants to the programme recognise this and want to change the way design is managed in industry.

Howard Chilvers

Programme leader

MA Design Leadership

Middlesex University

Hertfordshire EN4 8HT

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