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Peter Benz



All my Friends are Here

Peer-Reviewed Article in Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement (October 2013)

Student design agencies have not previously received much – if any – academic attention, despite them having become fairly common in the context of tertiary design/visual arts-institutions since the late 1990s as a way of providing work-study experiences. This paper for the first time outlines case studies of four international student design agencies in Germany, Malaysia, and the USA including their backgrounds, their legal setup, their relations with their mother institutions, their (business) activities and general operations, as well as their members’ motivations for participation. All case studies are based on interviews by email with respective agency heads conducted from November 2012 to January 2013. The information obtained from the interviews was further rounded by additional materials – where available – and turned into short comprehensive narratives that highlight the particular qualities for respective cases.

The concluding comparison of these four narratives establishes that student design agencies are worthwhile knowledge transfer endeavours with strong indications of educational value, though more formal research would need to be done to confirm quantitative and qualitative effects. The four cases at hand also allow for the deduction that the most important criterion for the success of a student design agency is its ability to create an intensive working experience with a strong focus on team interaction, and that the achievement of such experience is essentially based on on-campus space, staff involvement, competitive admission, and non-business related activities.

Peter Benz. “All my Friends are Here: Four Initial Case Studies on Student Design Agencies.” In Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement 6 (2013). p. 199–217.

You may find the full article here.