New international partnership to provide students with a global textiles experience

Published:
Marnie Collins
Assistant Professor Marnie Collins

For the first time in its 200-year history, Heriot-Watt is partnering with a US university to deliver a unique learning experience for its textile students.

A joint MSc in Global Textile Design program launches in September 2023, delivered by Heriot-Watt University and Thomas Jefferson University – the world’s two oldest textile institutions.

The initial cohort will welcome 12 students who will divide their time between Heriot-Watt’s School of Textiles and Design (SoTD) in the Scottish Borders and in the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering & Commerce at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, using each campus location as a base to explore international textile trade fairs and artisanal heritage sites.

Over 18-months, students will develop deep learning around textiles and design in a global market whilst building their understanding and appreciation of textile heritage; contemporising traditional manufacturing techniques through innovation and sustainable practices.

Furthermore, each will gain real-world industry experience through a summer internship with an established textile brand, as a key component of the course.

Assistant Professor Marnie Collins is Co-Director of the new multi-disciplinary MSc and based at the SoTD at Heriot-Watt University. She said: “This is the first time this university has introduced a joint-degree of this nature with a US-based university and it really is an unprecedented opportunity for students.

“It will provide postgraduates with a global perspective of the textile industry, opportunities to advance their enquiry through research, to network with top designer/makers in the field, to innovate using world class facilities and to delve into contemporary global issues such as sustainability, ethics, artisanal heritage and provenance, to inform their own creative practice. Graduates of the programme will enjoy the benefits of earning a joint degree from both Institutions, giving them a competitive advantage for employability.”

With course places limited, a rigorous selection process will be carried out, ensuring only the highest calibre of students are accepted. Successful applicants will learn about entrepreneurship, artisanal heritage and textiles sustainability, through research and practice.

Marnie continues: “This programme took inspiration from my personal experience as a textile design student from Philadelphia who was fortunate enough to spend a year studying at the Scottish Borders Campus. I realised that the exposure to a combination of design practices, approaches, networks and brands strengthened my understanding of the global textiles industry.  This experience gave me confidence that what I was creating was relevant and it provided me with a competitive advantage over other graduates who lacked this international perspective.  Throughout my career as a practicing textile designer, I have drawn most from what I have learned in my travels, starting with my unconventional study path.”

Students will travel to major, international trade events such as London Fashion Week, Premier Vision in Paris, and Texworld in New York.

The program is expected to provide a supported pathway into a variety of fashion or interior textile related jobs such as a textile creative, designer or artist.

The joint MSc has been made possible by the close relationship between both universities over the past 40 years. Whilst each offers its own world-renowned post graduate programme in textile design education, this joint programme goes above and beyond what is possible to offer individually.

Marcia Weiss, co-director of this new program, professor of Textile Design at Thomas Jefferson University, the world’s oldest textile institution, said: “We’re very excited to introduce this first-of-its-kind program that establishes the global model for 21st century professional education.

“Global Textile Design MS/MSc addresses the significant interest in design sustainability, artisanal heritage and entrepreneurship in the international textile, fashion and interiors fields. It unites and builds on the textile legacy of these two institutions, while forming an exciting springboard for the future.”

Students interested in applying should visit Heriot-Watt’s dedicated webpage or Kanbar College of Design, Engineering & Commerce.

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