Doing Good! Faith, Ethics, Morality, and Social Responsibility in Interior Design Education

Presented by: William Riehm

This panel discusses issues of faith, ethics, morality, and social responsibility, specifically addressing issues of students’ training to be responsible and ethical design professionals. This panel looks beyond an interior designers very important call to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public in the spaces we design (ASID 2013) (Guerin and Thompson 2004) and ask how, as educators, we can teach a deeper meaning of good. This is a contentious issue. Immediately it can be asked, “whose morals,” “what faith,” and “whose definition of society responsibility” are we discussing? And it is not the intention of this panel to answer those questions, rather it is to create a dialogue where concepts of social responsibility, ethics, moral education, and faith are exchanged so we can be better educators in our respective academic environments. Every academic environment is unique, and issues of public versus private setting, religious versus secular, and liberal versus conservative, will always impact the way that educators approach teaching students to “do good.” In his seminal 1955 article in Progressive Education “A secular approach to moral education,” Algernon D. Black wrote, “there is no one simple and easy way to develop moral and spiritual values in human beings. No one method can guarantee growth of character.” This is certainly true in interior design education where we work with community groups, non-profits, religious organizations, and professional organizations to achieve learning outcomes that, hopefully, create professionals who understand their role as bigger than themselves. This topic presents challenges to educators. For many this is personal, and this panel is intended to allow for a conversation to occur that respects individual belief as well as institutional settings and social constraints. One key question to be discussed is how educators reconcile their personal beliefs with those of their institutions and communities. “What limits us”, “how do I reconcile my personal beliefs,” and “what empowers us” are questions to be discussed. Panelist will be expert in professional practice, service learning, and/or social justice and from a range of public and private institutions including for-profit, secular, and those that are religiously affiliated. Our discussion will be driven by how each panelist teaches students to “do good” in the framework of their institutions, communities, and their own professional and personal beliefs.


  • ASID Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. American Society of Interior Designers, 2013.
  • Black, Algernon D. "A Secular Approach to Moral Education." Progressive Education 32 (1955): 109-15.
  • Guerin, Denise A., and Jo Ann Asher Thompson. "Interior Design Education in the 21st century: An Educational Transformation." Journal of Interior Design 30, no. 2 (2004): 1-12.
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