Design Educators Community

DEC and our New Site

August 8, 2011 / By admin

Phew, we did it! Two years and thousands of AIGA Design Educator Community Steering Committee volunteer hours — namely Scott Hutchinson’s and his crew and more recently, Julie Spivey’s — and AIGA educators have an updated and more robust ‘home.’ Not bad for a group who generously logs its valuable time working on behalf of design education and educators at-large in the nooks and crannies of the already over-committed schedules typical of most educators. 😉

The new site may be funky from time-to-time but know that we took our task seriously in spite of sometimes limited time and resources. You may discover a comma missing but hopefully not our credibility. Perhaps think of us not as a Website (with capital “W”) (or not as a proper website per se), but rather a bit more personal and less officious space for our community — and that’s simply what we are — a group working on behalf of our colleagues.

Educators have become an influential and valued voice in shaping the future of our profession. The introduction of our new AIGA DEC website (on the heels of’s new launch) seems like a good time to take account of our accomplishments in our seven short years and examine how design education is furthering AIGA’s commitment to “advancing design as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force”:

National Board Member Selection Includes Educators
The guidelines for the Nominating Committee now requires a full-time educator be included on the AIGA national board. But, alas, the current board includes three full-time educators: Phil Hamlett, Santiago Piedrafita, and Nathan Shedroff. Literally, design education has a seat at the table.

AIGA Medalists
The prestigious AIGA Medal is awarded each year to individuals in recognition of their distinguished achievements, service or contributions to the field of design. Among this notable/acclaimed group recent medalists have come from the ranks of leaders shaping design education including Meredith Davis, Ellen Lupton, Steve Heller, Kathy McCoy, and Lorraine Wild.

Educator Involvement at Pivot
Pivot: AIGA Design Conference
this October 13-16 in Phoenix recognizes the chicken/egg dilemma of whether it’s academia or the profession that’s shaping new roles for designers. This question seems to be at the forefront in this year’s conference programming as you’ll quickly recognize from the line-up of topics, presenters, and curators. Also, the event has finally been made affordable for educators thanks to the lower full-time educator rate of $350. This means an opportunity for educators to gain greater awareness of significant conversations around a shifting profession, but educator-specific programming will also be offered in the form of four intense workshops on reshaping curriculum and on teaching methods related to these changes. These events will collectively represents a Design Educators Conference-within-a-conference at Pivot.

Design Educator Conferences
Every three years proposals for AIGA Design Educator Conferences are solicited from the community, out of which four conferences are selected. The most recent was New Contexts/New Practices in Raleigh, NC this past October which investigated the next step in curricular planning for the education of tomorrow’s professionals as described in the Adobe/AIGA study, Defining the Designer of 2015. In addition to the upcoming Pivot conference, on the horizon is Geographics: Design, Education, and the Transnational Terrain in 2012 and Blunt: Explicit and Graphic Design Criticism Now in 2013.

Design Educator Community and Steering Committee
We assume you know who “we” are but a bit of recapping may be helpful. This community, which began in 2004 is overseen by a 12-member committee of full-time educators who are AIGA members representing diverse interests, experiences, and institutions. Our mission can be found here. Consider applying for an open committee position in the future and help lead the direction of this community.


Following are our specific accomplishments and those in the works as well as a “tour” of the content of the new more robust Design Educators Community website.

Initiatives and Resources
Each member of the Steering Committee spearheads one new initiative or furthers an existing initiative during their tenure. Thanks to these efforts we have realized a number of important resources for educators including:
Annual $5000 Design Faculty Research Grant
Design Faculty Research Archive
Past-conference Content Archive
Professional Standards of Teaching
Promotion and Tenure Standards for Educators
National Survey of Design Education Programs

Current Initiatives on Their Way to Becoming Resources
AIGA/NASAD Two-Year Education Briefing Paper
Two-Year Educators Sub-Community
Pro-Bono Models to Engage Academia
Education Meets Practice Meets Education
Teaching Design/Designing Teaching

We have initialized an effort to create resource wikis that will allow educators to share valuable information. For example, on our Yahoo group this past year there was considerable conversation and many suggestions made regarding films that would be beneficial for design students. The culled list is a excellence reference and perfect indicator of the need and value of these wikis.

We are launching this new, more robust area of the DEC website to stimulate thoughtful provocations that aim to enhance the quality of debate and conversation among educators. Consider contributing and/or engaging in the discussion. Contact our editor Julie Spivey to propose a topic.

Other stuff
You’ll also notice de rigueur social networking on our site — Facebook, Flickr and Twitter feeds along with ‘Of Interest’ postings — non-AIGA upcoming events and a variety of links round out the value areas of the site. And don’t forget the AIGA Yahoo Group. This discussion group continues to provide an informal platform for questions and conversation among design educators.

We hope you’ll visit the site often and see it as an increasingly valuable resource. We look forward to seeing your contributions here!

AIGA encourages thoughtful, responsible discourse. Please add comments judiciously, and refrain from maligning any individual, institution or body of work. Read our policy on commenting.