Conestoga welcomed more than 250 participants to the ProGlobe 2020 Virtual Conference on November 24, showcasing findings from a cross-cultural student collaboration reflecting on sustainability within the global context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was a culminating component of the ProGlobe project -- an interdisciplinary and cultural virtual exchange between four higher education institutions in North America and Europe. Students in Conestoga’s Bachelor of Interior Design (BID) program collaborated with students at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (Germany), Middle Tennessee State University (USA) and Politécnico de Viseu (Portugal) to exchange ideas on sustainable goals, practices and cultural diversity with a focus this year on the impacts of COVID-19.
Presenting in groups, students from each institution shared findings after conducting interviews with partners from the other three schools. Their research focused on how the pandemic has affected relationships and socialization, working and learning, public and personal activities, as well as the environment. Students found common themes in the challenges of staying connected, mental health and the rise of single-use waste.
As part of their research, Conestoga students also looked at interior design solutions to help address some of the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Solutions included incorporating soothing colours into workspaces to reduce stress; using proper lighting to minimize fatigue and headaches; establishing dedicated workspaces and zones at home to maintain mental boundaries; integrating indoor and outdoor living spaces to boost moods; incorporating washable and wipeable materials to help keep surfaces clean, such as linoleum floors, copper hardware and polyester; and installing proper ventilation and HVAC systems in multi-unit dwellings to help minimize the spread of germs.
In a keynote address to participants, Dr. Jürgen Bode, vice-president for international affairs and diversity at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, emphasized the importance of virtual exchange projects like ProGlobe and the power of the global exchange of ideas as part of the scientific method. He discussed the recent news of a COVID-19 vaccine as an example that highlights how necessary it is to foster global awareness and international collaboration.
“This is an extreme success of science and the global exchange of ideas, which is at the core of the ProGlobe project,” said Bode. “I think only because of the global exchange of ideas and the rigorous application of science and the scientific method has it been possible to come up with a vaccine for this pandemic in such a short period of time.”
Students in Conestoga’s BID program have participated in the ProGlobe virtual exchange project since 2018 as part of curriculum. The project is one of two unique programs currently hosted by the newly formed Consortium of Virtual Exchange (CoVE). Conestoga is among CoVE’s founding member institutions.
Accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, BID provides students with the theoretical, practical and technical skills required for practice in the field. Through a comprehensive curriculum delivered by an interdisciplinary faculty, the program prepares students to apply an integrated approach to interior design solutions for the built environment and its occupants and meet the technological changes and currency relating to sustainability, universal design, and health and safety.