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Announcing the call for the FOURTH issue of Dialectic

November 1, 2017 / By Michael Gibson

Authors are invited to submit works for possible publication in the FOURTH issue of Dialectic, a biannual journal devoted to the critical and creative examination of issues that affect design education, research, and inquiry. Michigan Publishing, the hub of scholarly publishing at the University of Michigan, is publishing Dialectic on behalf of the AIGA Design Educators Community (DEC). The fourth issue will be published between July 15 and September 15, 2018. The deadline for full versions of papers and visual narratives written and/or designed that meet Dialectic Issue 04’s categorical descriptions (see below) is: 5:00 pm CDT, January 25, 2018.

Dialectic’s fourth issue will be structured so that it is comprised of two contrasting but complementary “halves,” and will be published in a do-si-do (“back-to-back”) format. This means that our fourth issue will actually have two front covers and no back cover, and that each half of this issue will deliver content that is thematically guided, or framed, by its own distinct, overarching approach. Both of these approaches are unified in that they call for contributors to articulate their particular visions—or facets of visions—for the future of design education, professional practice, research, or confluences between these. Specifically, we are seeking to publish papers and visual narratives that either locate themselves in a dystopian or a utopian future for design, and the worlds that design affects and is affected by.

More simply put, we ask those who submit content for possible publication in Dialectic’s fourth issue to ask themselves what type of future they envision for design, or aspects of it: one rooted in a “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” prognosis, or one fated to fulfill a “Blade Runner: 2049” destiny? Heads up or tails down? What if people who know how to design cool logos will soon be replaced by robots? What if people who know how to design cool logos will soon be paid their weight in gold every time one of their creations is published in CA, Print, Creative Review, or Graphis?

Dialectic’s Editorial Board suggests that potential authors and visual narrative creators re: Issue 04 begin their thought processes by reading the AIGA’s recent publication “The Designer of 2025,” which succinctly describes seven “trends [and competencies] with long arcs likely to continue into the future:”

https://educators.aiga.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/DESIGNER-2025-SUMMARY.pdf

Authors and visual narrative creators planning to contribute to our fourth issue are reminded that each submission to Dialectic should be framed in one of the following submission types, which are described in more detail later in this call:

· original visual essays/visually based narratives/visual storytelling
· research papers
· long-form case study reports/case series reports

· position papers
· criticism of designed artifacts, systems, and processes
· reviews of books, exhibitions, and conferences
· survey papers
· theoretical speculations

Each piece that Dialectic will publish must be based on fundamentally sound scholarship and inquiry, written or designed so that is broadly accessible, and focused on topics relevant to its audiences.

Questions to shape submissions for possible publication in Dialectic Issue 04

The fourth issue of Dialectic seeks papers and visual narratives that would be of interest to a diverse audience of design educators and practitioners. The following array of example prompts—informed within either dystopian or utopian frameworks—have been provided to guide potential authors’ approaches to preparing their submissions:

Dystopian: Is it possible, or probable, that design will ultimately suffer the same diminished state as other professions that are being routinized and supplanted by increasingly sophisticated A.I. and/or algorithmic application? The effects are already being felt in mid-level management activities, civil law practices, and diagnostic medicine.

Utopian: As the work of designers becomes more systemically complex, how will the abilities of individual designers and design teams to assert their unique, creative contributions to these types of projects ensure that human-centered design processes will positively affect an ever-broader array of social, cultural and economic initiatives?

Dystopian: If design were subsumed more fully into business models that privilege best practices over idiosyncratic creativity, of what value would designers be, and, by extension, design education in its most widespread aesthetic/communicative forms?

Utopian: How will design continue to build on and leverage its extant model of decision-making predominantly guided by the tacitly constructed, expert-knowledge of design practitioners across newly created business models that integrate understandings from diverse groups of contributors and stakeholders?

Dystopian: Should the question be asked: are we graduating too many designers? If we are moving forward into a more automated creative landscape, is the optimal balance between supply and demand a third of current graduates, or half, or even less?

Utopian: How should various types of design programs, and the academies and universities within which they are located, expand their capacities to graduate more than the roughly 40,000 degree recipients they currently do to meet the demands of a rapidly diversifying, hyper-globalized set of market systems and communities?

Dystopian: Is design sowing the seeds of its irrelevancy by creating robust, creative digital platforms and tools for ‘non-designers?’ Will this transcription of tacit knowledge into embedded software activities empower others at the expense of design practice as it exists today?

Utopian: How should design develop and sustain the use of robust, creative digital platforms and tools with and on behalf of people who do not possess knowledge of design, but who could derive benefit from gaining this knowledge? How could the introduction of these platforms and tools increase opportunities for designers to work effectively across disciplines, and to empower themselves by gaining knowledge from areas outside design?

Dystopian: Given that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 0 to 1% growth rate for traditional graphic design positions through 2024, how should design education programs be altered to prepare students for positions in areas—like networked communications and software development—that offer much higher growth rates across their employment sectors?

Utopian: How should emerging and established designers evolve their learning processes to allow them to invent and utilize technologies that read and respond to what people do in real-time across data-laden landscapes?

Dystopian: How should approaches to design education be altered to remain relevant in university settings where its influence is being lost to or co-opted by other disciplines?

Utopian: How can research—by design, for design, through design—help design students and professionals expand the scope of “the good that design can do” in specific, less-than-desirable, social, technological, economic, environmental and public policy situations in the world?

Dystopian: Like students studying in many other disciplines across contemporary academic environments, design students may well have to change career paths many times over a 50+ year span of time. Given the fact that most university-level design curricula do NOT prepare students for this eventuality, how should design education be facilitated to address this reality, and where should it be located in or between the university and professional communities?

Utopian: How might design professionals best augment their store of knowledge to effectively address the complex, system- and community-based design challenges of the future, especially those that require interdisciplinary collaboration? How should today’s design students be prepared for these types of challenges?

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Dialectic’s web address for submissions:
https://dialectic.submittable.com/submit

Submitters are hereby advised to peruse the contents of the entire Dialectic website to ensure that their submissions meet ALL of Dialectic’s criteria for publication BEFORE they submit work for consideration. Reading the rest of this communiqué CAREFULLY and THOROUGHLY is also encouraged.

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Dialectic’s inaugural issue/”Issue 01” was published in March of 2017 and is available online at Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Dialectic-Scholarly-Leadership-Discipline-Communication/dp/1607854155), or as an online entity at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/dialectic

Dialectic’s second issue/“Issue 02” will be released in November 2017.

Dialectic’s third issue/“Issue 03” will be released in March 2018.

All submissions to Dialectic MUST be made through the “Submittable” website hosted by Michigan Publishing listed above. Please DO NOT attempt to send any type of submission as an e-mail attachment to any of Dialectic’s Editorial Board members, its Producer, its AIGA DEC liaisons, or members of its Advisory Committee. Instructions for formatting ALL types of submissions are embedded (per category) in this submittable website. Submissions that are NOT formatted according to these instructions will be rejected. All submissions must be created in keeping with the editorial policy of Dialectic, which is articulated here: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/dialectic/policies-guidelines.

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Dialectic will publish visual essays/narratives and papers that satisfy the following categorical descriptions (please note that word counts may not be exceeded):

Original visual essays/visually based narratives/visual storytelling: Dialectic invites submissions from designers or teams of designers that are comprised primarily or solely of imagery (photography and/or illustrations), typographic structures, “type-as-image,” or some combination of these that visually communicate one or more types of narrative/storytelling. The logistical criteria specified in the “Illustrations, Graphics, and Photos” section of the “2016-17 Submissions Guidelines for Dialectic” document must be met (re: image resolutions, physical sizes, bleeds, etc.), and submissions that are assessed by the Editorial Board and/or external reviewers to be visually compelling and conceptually provocative will be considered for publication, pending the availability of page space in a given issue.

Research papers (3,000 to 4,500 words): These articles will recount how designers and design teams identified a situation that was problematic, formulated and operated research to understand the various factors, conditions and people involved that were affecting the situation, and then used their analysis of the data gathered from this research to guide design decision-making toward improving this situation. This type of writing should be grounded in evidentiary processes, and should clearly explicate a hypothesis, as well as posit and support a methodology and some form of a measurable data set.

Long-form case study reports or case series reports (3,000 to 4,500 words): These articles will describe how a particular person, group, project, event, experience or situation has been studied and analyzed, using one or more methods, during a specific span of time. These contributions should posit insights that exist as logical subsets of a larger category, and that are at least tangentially generalizable to the category. A case series report collectively describes how a group of individuals have responded to a particular type of treatment, experience or interaction. They can be used to help analyze and assess the responses of a cross-section of individual users to one or more iterations of an interface design, or an environmental graphics or wayfinding system, or a series of data visualizations.

Position papers (2,000 to 3,000 words): These essays will present the readership of Dialectic with an opinion—of the author, or of a specified group of people or organization—about an issue or set of issues in a way or ways that make particular values and the belief systems that guide them known.

Design criticism (as long-form essays of between 2,000 and 3,000 words): The goal of these pieces is to critically analyze design decision-making, and the affects that making and using what has been designed have on the operation and evolution of social, technological, economic, environmental and political systems.

Reviews of books, exhibitions, conferences, etc. (750 to 1,500 words): These shorter articles are written to critically analyze the efficacy of the structure, content, style, and relative merit of their particular subjects in ways that combine the author’s personal reactions and arguments to it with his/her assessment of how effectively it fulfilled or failed in its purpose.

Survey papers (2,000 to 3,000 words): These pieces are written to clearly summarize, organize, and analyze a select, topical grouping of scholarly articles, research papers, or case studies in a way that integrates and adds to the understanding of the work in a given discipline or field of study.

Theoretical speculations (3,000 to 4,500 words): These contributions will consist of attempts by their authors to explain a particular phenomenon, set of circumstances, or situational construct based on their ability to utilize observations rather than hard evidence to fuel speculative thoughts and suppositions. These contributions should be grounded in a viable paradigm, or use theory as a viable justification for what has been observed, and should be internally coherent and advance logical conclusions.

Editorial responses from Dialectic readers (750 to 1,200 words): Dialectic encourages its readers to submit critical responses to specific articles, editorials, or visual pieces that have been published in previous issues. Authors are also welcome to bring any issues that they believe are pertinent to the attention of Dialectic’s readership. Editorial commentary relative to specific published articles and pieces will be sent to their author(s) so they can respond.

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Important dates:

Deadline for full versions of papers written that meet Dialectic Issue 04’s categorical descriptions is: 5:00 pm CST, January 25, 2018

Initial/Desk reviews of submissions to Dialectic Issue 02 complete: March 2, 2018

External reviews of submission to Dialectic Issue 02 complete: April, 20 2018

Authors responses/revisions to external reviewers’ suggestions re: their manuscripts due: June 1, 2018

Dialectic Issue 04 published: July 15–September 15, 2018

Dialectic’s managing editor:
Keith M. Owens, The University of North Texas

Dialectic’s producer:
Michael R. Gibson, The University of North Texas

Dialectic’s editorial board:
Anne Burdick, Art Center
Heather Corcoran, Washington University at St. Louis
Kenneth FitzGerald, Old Dominion University
Deborah Littlejohn, North Carolina State University
Keith M. Owens, The University of North Texas
Stacie Rohrbach, Carnegie Mellon University

Dialectic’s AIGA Design Educators Community liaisons:
Eric Benson, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Amy Fidler, Bowling Green State University
Michael R. Gibson, The University of North Texas

Dialectic’s advisory committee:
Kim Erwin, The Illinois Institute of Technology Institute of Design
Brockett Horne, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
Ann McDonald, Northeastern University
Paul Nini, The Ohio State University
Elizabeth Resnick, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt)
Holly Willis, The University of Southern California

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