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Polymorphs at Parsons

As a creative with roots in the service industry, I have often wondered if a field that could encompass my unique range of skill and experience might ever emerge.

Enter: Service Design, a field so young that only a handful of institutions currently offer degrees that pertain to it. Part graphic design, part system design and part economics — it’s easy to see how something so interdisciplinary could shake up or even elude the constructs of higher education.

Last week my father sent me a link to this article from the Guardian, UK written by Gaynor Aaltonen: Polymorphs in the making. Below are a few quotes from the article that might convince you to take a closer look.

Service designers require a broad set of creative skills as well as extensive life experience. But then, so does business. Are colleges offering the flexible training students need?

In the future, educationalists believe, top business leaders will not only read the market; they will pre-empt its needs. Frequent cultural and social shifts will mean big adjustments for both businesses and governments. An understanding of service design – and the feel for customers’ needs that it brings – will be vital to help drive innovation.

Businesses may not need polymaths to do all this high-speed juggling. But they may need polymorphs. So where does that leave education generally? Many professionals think that existing higher education institutions face enormous issues.

With so much restructuring on the horizon — one wonders what role polymorphism will continue to play at Parsons.

Ben Fenton is a Front-end Developer and Faculty in the AAS Graphic Design Program.