As we enter the second year of the pandemic, we are rediscovering our nature for resilience, courage, and adaptability while being confronted by limitations in our personal, professional, and technological capabilities. In the new normal, we are also revisiting old and new conversations addressing long overdue issues and turning them into actions. On the positive side, barriers that seemed insurmountable before are breaking down. More importantly, as the world becomes smaller due to the shift to virtual connectivity, more opportunities are evolving to foster collaborations across disciplines and reach far corners of the globe. Designers now have more tools to become change-makers within the academic and professional realms through initiating, engaging, and collaborating in practices that create positive experiences. In this spirit, we are inviting contributions addressing overarching considerations in design education and practice that embrace sustainability in its broadest sense.  Topics such as, but not limited to, social equity, diversity & inclusion, health & well-being, environmental-stewardship, and innovation, can be addressed in any of the following categories:

  • Design Education: Work that engages in discourse of industrial design education, including but not limited to curriculum development, pedagogical practices, recruitment, accessibility, pandemic effects, and/or democratizing industrial design education
  • Design Practice: Work that addresses the development of products, services, and systems in the realm of innovative industrial design practices. How has the pandemic shaped and changed how we work and communicate? What are lessons learned and action items?
  • Crossing the Aisles: Work that brings together inter and multi-disciplinary teams including academia, industry, and community stakeholders to create experiences that continue to cross the divide, such as lessons learned, new opportunities discovered, future developments, pandemic-specific insights. 



Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, IDSA
Education Director, IDSA Board of Directors
Assistant Professor of Industrial Design, Iowa State University


Education Symposium Committee

  • Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, IDSA, Iowa State University, Industrial Design
  • Aziza Cyamani, IDSA, Kansas State University, Interior Architecture and Industrial Design (IAID)
  • Carly Hagins, IDSA, Western Michigan University, Product Design
  • Bryan Howell, Brigham Young University, Industrial Design



All papers on the topic of Breaking Down Barriers between the academic and professional communities are welcome. We are looking specifically for design relevant topics in the following areas:

  • Academic Research: These contributions follow a systematic investigative approach to a question, problem, or situation, that builds on or addresses an existing theory and contributes new knowledge to the body of industrial design research or practice. The study should address clear research goals, questions and conform to formal research procedures and methodologies.
  • Case Studies: These contributions are investigations into one topic area, such as describing a process or project with tangible outcomes. Examples might be curriculum investigations, course projects, technologies, or industry product developments. They should demonstrate new ideas in industrial design pedagogy or practice.
  • Design Letters: These contributions are open; they follow a looser investigative approach. Thought pieces, lessons learned, and calls for action in industrial design practice or education would be appropriate contributions.
  • Student Research (Ph.D./Masters/Undergraduate): These contributions address research or projects conducted by students whose unique perspective enlivens, illuminates, and contributes to the body of industrial design knowledge.


  • Monday, March 1, 2021 - Submission portal opens for entries.
  • Monday, May 3 - Submission portal closes for entries.
  • Notification of Acceptance of Papers will begin in June.



All submitted papers will be considered by a review board. Once a review of all submissions has been made, selected individuals will be contacted and provided with further instruction.

Please note: