Announcing the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design: André Stephan on the importance of designing in harmony with the environment

The Melbourne School of Design's newest qualification, the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design, will be taught from 2019 onwards. We recently caught up with Dr André Stephan, coordinator of the GCED programme, to find out just how important it is for environmental design to be at the heart of all built environment disciplines in this day and age, and going forward.

Why is it so important to offer the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design in this day and age?
The built environment is responsible for the largest share of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors, globally. It also the main driver for raw material extraction, waste generation and resource depletion.

If we are to rise to these environmental challenges, we need to train future generations of built environment professionals to work together and synergistically to design buildings and cities that help improve environmental performance and positively contribute to the environment. The GCED is a step in this direction.

What was the biggest factor which led to the creation of the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design?
Many built environment professionals have graduated (and still graduate) with a limited knowledge of this critical field. We wanted to provide them with a short course that focuses entirely on the matter and equips them with the required skills, knowledge, and networks to design buildings and cities in harmony with the environment.

Can you tell us how environmental design fits in to the broader built environments arena?
Environmental design is omnipresent across all built environment disciplines and scales. From buildings, infrastructure, neighbourhoods and cities, built environment professionals design meaningful spaces for people, that require materials, energy, water and other environmental flows to construct, operate and decommission. To put it bluntly, environmental design should and will be at the heart of all built environment disciplines in this time and age, and going forward.

Why should students choose to study the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design?
The GCED offers a highly flexible and multidisciplinary approach to environmental design. It allows students to tailor their learning according to the specific skill set and knowledge that they want to acquire. A GCED student can either choose a predefined stream that matches their preferred career outcome or design their own curriculum.

In addition, GCED students will have the opportunity to develop their network through industry events hosted by the program. Having a GCED from the University of Melbourne will enable students to pursue careers in their discipline, e.g. consultancy, architecture, urban design, planning, construction management, and others, focusing on environmental design.

I would say that the biggest advantage that the students would receive is research-based knowledge and skills provided by world leading academics in the field. That will provide students with a competitive advantage on the job market.

What will the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design add to a student’s skillset?
The GCED will develop a student’s analytical skills in quantifying the environmental performance of the built environment while appreciating its complexity and social ramifications. It reinforces teamwork skills by simulating real-world scenarios of team collaborations and prepares student for working together across disciplines.

How will undertaking the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design enhance a students’ career opportunities?
GCED graduates will have a deep understanding of the interrelationships of disciplines, governance, environmental flows and scales of the built environment. This will enable them to design buildings and cities that result in net life cycle environmental benefits.

GCED graduates will be sought after for their multidisciplinary approach, specialised skillsets and knowledge and ability to work in teams. Furthermore, the exposure of GCED students to industry firms and bodies throughout their degree will provide opportunities for subsequent internships and job opportunities.

How do the latest research developments impact the course content of the Grad Cert in Env Des?
Many subjects in the GCED are taught by world leading academics in their fields, including in life cycle assessment, environmental planning, energy simulation, and others. This means that students will often be working with primary research data and findings, before these are even published. This will enable a learning experience at the forefront of research in the field.

How is industry involved in the delivery of the course content?
Almost all subjects in the GCED invite prominent guest lecturers from the industry to share their knowledge with students. GCED students will also visit a number of sites  their subjects.

We are currently working with leading industry bodies and associations in the field of environmental design to endorse each of the predefined streams of the GCED. These include the Green Building Council of Australia, the Australian Institute for Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, and others.

If you are interested in studying the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design please visit the course information page.
Graduate Certificate in Environmental Design course information