Design Education and Learning









Designing the unknown: supervising design students who manage mental health issues  

Welby Ings 

Aukland University of Technology, New Zealand

Keywords: creativity; learning design; mental health; postgraduate supervision


Seneca in his Moral Essays said, ‘No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness’ (1928, p. 284). When working with highly gifted designers, it is not uncommon to encounter such a connection. However, as supervisors we can often find ourselves navigating unstable territories with little pedagogical guidance. This article discusses some implications of working creatively with Design students who manage mental health conditions in a postgraduate environment in a New Zealand University. In doing so, it considers it reflects upon the research journeys of two candidates and the construction of responsive, creativity supportive environments developed to support their research. The paper also proposes a number of strategies that may be employed to support the development of productive early research experiences of emerging designers, such that both their lives and the pedagogical approaches that support them, are developed in more responsible, meaningful, and open ways. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: Ings, W. (2016). Designing the unknown: supervising design students who manage mental health issues. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

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