Preparing Fashion Students for a Socially Engaged University Project through Zulu Proverbs



Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design


  • critical citizenship education, Zulu proverbs, fashion design curriculum, socially responsive design projects


In this paper, I respond to the sub-question about the extent to which design educators can incorporate our context and knowledge of Africa into our design disciplines. I provide an example of a socially-engaged design project from a fashion department at a South African University of Technology (UoT) in which second-year fashion students participated. I argue that this project can be framed as an example of critical citizenship education as forwarded by Johnson and Morris (2010). I also grapple with how a diverse student body can be prepared for a design project that perceives the transformation of society as an end. In light of this, I propose Zulu proverbs as valuable resources that can be used to prepare students for such a project.

Adopting a qualitative approach, students’ analyses and interpretations of selected Zulu proverbs drawn from Mayr (1912) and Nyembezi (1990) indicated that youth leadership, social responsibility and empathy may be the necessary themes for a socially-engaged fashion project of this type. While a small number of the students indicated that this approach was forgettable and unhelpful in preparing them, the majority of students perceived the use of Zulu proverbs as effective in preparing them to be agents of social good, while also offering a new framework and paradigmatic approach to socially-engaged design projects of this nature.


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