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International Master's Degree in Design for Cooperation and Sustainable Development 

Programme 2011 – 2012


1. Structure and Objectives


To date, all the hypotheses regarding sustainable development that have been formulated highlight the need to act in a global context, so as to transform the present dynamics at work in the relationship between raw material, production processes, and consumption. This primary requirement implies a solution to many of the standard features which have traditionally characterized relations between “developed” countries and “developing countries”.


Today's globalization effectively neutralizes any attempt to isolate development and underdevelopment, the north of the globe from the south; problems are seen to be ever more interdependent and complementary. Such interdependence, when analysed under the “raw material–production processes–consumption” model, can be read as “exploitation of resources, de-localization of production processes and market extension”.


The passage from “aid” to “partnership” seen in international programmes from the south of the world, ought to be interpreted as awareness that interventions in these countries are not only a necessity for the improvement of living conditions there, but they also allow for the maintenance of a correct “living standard” in northern countries.


To counter the negative effects of globalization, programmes are need that restore territorial balance by jointly developing a reduction in the north and growth in the south. This necessarily involves re-thinking the practices of international cooperation.


Having overcome the very concept of “aid” the next step involves identifying the most appropriate means of building “common projects” involving knowledge and populations that reside in different territorial and cultural contexts.  It should be borne in mind that the cultures of the south also have much to teach – particular know-how, care of common property, persistence of the logic of exchange and gift – which can give a valid contribution to our mental decolonization. For those who operate in the world of design, all this indicates a need to face hitherto unexamined implications and new knowledge requirements, especially in the capacity to programme innovations in production processes.


In the countries to the south of the world the need arises to identify more advanced relationships between the potentials of local techniques and materials used in handicrafts, and the innovative role of industry. This is not so much a question of transferring know-how, as seeking stimuli, within the gap between different techniques and cultures, to design new production processes and products that are more coherent with strategic choices.

 Within the gap that separates craftsmanship and industry, innovative elements may be introduced in both manufacture and product, which may update operative categories such as standardization and uniformity, assembly, interchange ability, component maintenance and repair. Though all these aspects require more specific definition, nevertheless, a north-south synergy between producers is surely a practicable notion in light of growing interest in “hybridization” and “Geo-Design” products. 


The programme for the International Master's Degree in Design for Cooperation and Sustainable Development is based on these premises.  It attempts to verify whether the re-proposal of techniques and craftsmanships that have very often disappeared or fallen into disuse in industrialized countries (but still present in particular areas of the south of the world), can provide a stimulus for a new aesthetic linked to sustainable production.

The Master's Degree aims at improving the preparation of operators on the international scene so that they can meet the demands of such a new perspective.


The activities will be focused on particular aspects of innovation in production processes that lie between craftsmanship and industry:


1.   Industrial standardization and the development of handcrafted components. The identification of industrial components that can be assembled with handcrafted or locally produced components, so as to improve and expand the productive potential of craftsmanship.

2.     Industrial production techniques and the use of local materials for the manufacture of products that are 100 percent natural. Experimentation of the most suitable techniques to allow for the manufacture of products or product components using natural materials.

3.     Improvement of product quality by intervening in continuity and the environmental improvement of the same, by increasing the value of its salient qualities (manual capacity, diversification, etc.).

4.     Improving the formal qualities of products without losing continuity with local traditions, yet updating them with the aim of making them more suitable to international markets.


2. Functional profile and occupational opportunities in the specific professional area

The objective of the International Master's Degree in Design for Cooperation and Sustainable Development is to provide experts in international cooperation design and consultants for aid programmes with the know-how to intervene in the manufacturing reality of countries in the south of the world, so as to make the most of both local craftsmanship and the natural materials already present in the environment.  Particular attention will be paid to the training necessary to provide innovative developments in manufacturing processes within industrialization and sustainable development programmes.  Focus will be generally on “living” in the broadest sense (not only design, but also innovation in technology and construction processes), and aimed at deepening the relationship between different levels of intervention.


3. Broad outline of the organization

Didactic activities will be characterized by a multi-disciplinary approach, as befits the complexity of the themes involved.

Apart from the regular disciplines covered in the project, particular attention will be given to local development, informal economies and their relationship with the formal economies, anthropology, market trends (critical consumption), technology (in relation to specific sectors) and the organization of production.

The activities of the Master's course will be articulated in four didactic modules of intensive integrated courses (workshops and seminars), lasting one month each and organized in countries selected during the annual programming phase, to allow students to study the specific technical, productive and cultural aspects in different international contexts.

Apart from the study of specific manufacturing techniques, the first three modules will focus on the experimentation of natural materials from the territory in question.

The fourth module, instead, will be concentrated on the students' individual theses and will be held in the universities that participate in the Master's programme.

During the period when the Master's programme is operational a work-group (tutoring and research) will follow each single student's activities.

On conclusion of each module intermediate progress tests will be held, while the final examination will consist of an individual research project.


4. Scientific Committee

Gaddo Morpurgo           Project Coordinator

Giuseppe Lotti               Florence University

Laura Badalucco           Iuav University Venice

Paola Gambero             Genoa University



Programme 2011 – 2012

Introductory seminar                       

28 November – 2 December 2011                              Florence


Module 1


Materials and craft techniques 1                 

16 January - 10 February 2012                                    Kigali

Workshop 1        16-27 January 2012                        

Workshop 2        30 January - 10 February 2012


Module 2


Materials and craft techniques 2                 

4-29 June 2012                                                                  Morocco

Workshop 3        4-15 June 2012                                 

Workshop 4        18-29 June 2012


Module 3


Ideas and techniques for post-industrial society 1

3-14 September 2012                                                       Venice

Ideas and techniques for post-industrial society 2

29 October - 9 November                                                 Genoa


Module 4            

(October- November) Europe and/or Africa, at the student's discretion and based on the choice of thesis


Final seminar

3-7 December 2012                                                            Florence






Duration: annual

Number of hours: 1500

Hours of didactic activities: 385

Maximum number of places available: 24, of which 12 are reserved for students resident in Africa. Should some of the 12 reserved places not be taken they may be assigned to students not resident in Africa.

Minimum number of participants required to activate the course: 12 students registered and paying the full enrolment fee.

Admission procedure: Evaluation of credentials and portfolio.

Qualifications required: Three-year degree in architecture, industrial design or fashion, knowledge of the English language 

Full enrolment fee: 2.514.62 €

Application deadline 21 October 2011



Maximum number of places available for students

attending workshops:  Total 36 (six each workshop)

For access to each single workshop: Three-year degree in industrial design, fashion or architecture, OR Enrolment in the third year of a degree course industrial design, fashion or architecture with at least 120 credits already attained and a thesis project on one of the subjects covered by the Master's degree.

Workshop enrolment fee: 500.00 €

Application deadline 21 October 2011