Design Educators Community

Announcing the Design Educator Conference Programming at NOLA

August 31, 2015 / By Design Educators

The DEC is is proud to present the Design Educators Conference on Thursday October 8, 2015 in New Orleans. To register for the AIGA National Conference and the Educators Conference please click here. Additional programming and Affinity Sessions are also listed on the main conference site. Space is limited so register today! 

The Design Educators Conference Programming / October 8

8:30–9:30 AM

Welcome + Town Hall Discussion
Allan Chochinov, SVA MFA Products of Design + Partner, Core77
Helen Armstrong, North Carolina State University + Co-chair, Design Educators Community Steering Committee (DEC)

9:45–10:45 AM

Envisioning Diverse Future(s) for Graduate Education in Graphic/Interaction/Visual Communication Design​
Grad school in design is no longer a place to ‘polish a portfolio,’ or gain understandings about design processes that should have been embedded during an undergraduate experience, or rescue a floundering professional design career. The array of educational, professional and societal challenges that confront future design educators, managers, researchers and practitioners has been diversifying rapidly over the past two decades, and are showing no signs of decelerating. To even begin to succeed, designers who wish to pursue a wide variety of viable, sustainable, leadership-track career paths in the academy and the private sector must cultivate the ability to marry theoretical, methodological and practical bases of knowledge to identify, frame and operate projects. Effectively meeting these challenges now demands that more inter- and trans-disciplinary learning experiences be facilitated on behalf of masters’ and doctoral candidates enrolled in graduate programs around the U.S. and the world. This panel presentation and discussion will address how design education at the graduate level is changing and will need to continue to change in order to meet these demands.
Michael R. Gibson, The University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design
Paul Nini, The Ohio State University​
Kim Erwin, The Illinois Institute of Technology
Heather Corcoran, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts Washington University in St. Louis

Preparing Graphic Design Students for Interaction Design Work
Increasingly visual communication design majors are taking jobs as interaction designers. With many of these jobs form and typography take a back seat to systems thinking, experiences and ideas. Are current graphic design programs providing enough learning experiences for graduates to succeed in the Interaction Design field? As educators, do we need to rethink our approach to teaching graphic design and interaction design entirely? Some schools have created two distinct programs for Visual Communication Design and Interaction Design. Others are having to incorporate the two disciplines into a single packed curriculum. Where are these two disciplines going in terms of education — should they merge or remain distinct to one another? This panel will discuss the challenges of teaching between the sometimes murky waters of graphic design and interaction design.
Annabelle Gould, University of Washington
Jennifer Bernstein, Level Design Group, New York, NY + Department of Arts, Culture and Media, Rutgers–Newark
Dan Boyarski, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University
Sarah Lowe, University of Tennessee

Charrette: Creating Pedagogy for Participatory, People-centered Design
This workshop will explore generating a framework, structure, and activities for integrating a participatory, people-centered approach into visual communication design curriculum. Participants will engage in individual and collaborative work, and will walk away with new ideas, applied examples, and a follow-up transcription of the workshop activities.
Charrette Leaders:
Pamela Napier, Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI
Eric Benson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Charrette: Designing Assessments for 21st Century Teaching and Learning
This workshop focuses on a set of well-aligned steps educators can take to develop assessment methods that aid teaching and foster learning in contemporary design classrooms. In today’s practice, it is critical for designers to employ a thoughtful and logical process and contribute effectively to multidisciplinary efforts. Thus, educators and students must move beyond the sole evaluation of final artifacts, integrating into their assessments various ways learning is demonstrated throughout projects and in collaboration with other students. This workshop will include examples of a holistic approach to assessment and assist participants as they tackle the writing and use of learning outcomes, instructional activities, performance measures, and rubrics using the provided framework. The workshop intends to equip educators with tools and strategies that they can implement in their own courses and projects to effectively assess performance and foster learning.
Charrette Leader:
Stacie Rohrbach, Carnegie Melon University

Educating Designers About Using Visual Narrative as Writers, Authors, and Makers of Books
The process of contemporary book making and story telling has seen dramatic shifts in the interplay between object and content. Many book artists and designer/authors are asking very existential questions about what a book is, what makes it unique, and what is its future. With these questions new avenues have emerged for these makers. Often redefining linear and non-linear narratives, through experimentation with series, sequences and fractured narratives. This progress has fundamentally changed how and why we tell stories. In many ways, over the past four decades, book artists and designer/authors have been offering up responses to these questions that are now emerging within the zeitgeist. The renaissance in book arts and emergence of design authorship has, among other things, served as a laboratory for re-awakening and re-imagining the visual, physical, and time/space properties of the book. Panelists will show and tell of their own experiences as teachers and makers, inventing and refining a curriculum that combines the tools and methodologies of books arts, design and visual narrative toward an integrated expression.
Ned Drew, Rutgers University-Newark
Warren Lehrer, SUNY, Purchase College
David Wolske, University of Indiana
Philip Zimmermann, University of Arizona

11:00 AM–NOON

Design Education in a Global Economy
We are living in a world of global challenges that will require global solutions; educators world-wide agree that our graduates need to develop a mind-set to match the world around them. Design educators are continually faced with a need to expand their capacity in the classroom in order to prepare students to successfully practice and compete in the global marketplace. International collaborations and cross-cultural educational experiences have now become both popular and necessary for a relevant and competitive design education. This panel discusses the challenges and opportunities of design education in a global economy.
Ruki Ravikumar, University of Central Oklahoma
Maria Rogal, University of Florida
Marianna Amatullo, Designmatters + Art Center College of Art and Design
Bahia Shehab, American University in Cairo

The History of SuperGraphics

The term “Supergraphics” was coined by architectural critic C Ray Smith to describe a movement in the late 1960’s and early 70’s in which architects began using large-scale color and line, primarily painted, as an architectural device. As a movement, it burned hot and brief, but the lineage of it has persevered, picked up by street artists, graphic designers, and fine artists alike. As designers, our mediums are more frequently small than large, but there’s great joy in going big. MacFadden + Thorpe’s studio practice has involved the production of a number of large-scale typographic installations, designed on the fly, off computer, and often as a group effort. For this workshop, participants will create a collective supergraphic. The charrette will begin with a discussion on the history of supergraphics, showing some key examples like Solomon’s. Then the group will immediately shift into concepting and production, with the hope that many hands can come together into one shining expression of graphic creativity.
Charrette Leader:
Brett MacFadden, MacFadden + Thorpe


Invited design educators will present a thought-provoking project  from their design classrooms, and will share project briefs and details with attendees. The Pechakucha format of 20 slides for 20 seconds allows each presenter a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds to convey their ideas. This short, concise format creates a dynamic and energetic atmosphere (and leaves time for Q & A at the end of the session).
Julie Spivey, University of Georgia
Brad Tober, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cassie Hester, Mississippi State University
John Caserta, Rhode Island School of Design
Jim Walker, The University of Texas at Austin
Erik Brandt, Minneapolis College of Art + Design

12:30–1:30 PM

Attendees organized into roundtables by peer group.
Attendees will grab their own lunches.

Additional Programming on Friday, October 9


What is the Design Educators Community?
How does the Community aim to support educators? Are you interested in hosting an AIGA Design Educator Conference and curious about what that entails? Join us as we discuss these topics and current initiatives.
Kenneth FitzGerald, Old Dominion University
Karen Zimmermann, University of Arizona

Funding for Design Research
We will discuss how to identify funding sources and best practices for applying for grants, including AIGA’s annual Design Faculty Research Grant.
Michael Gibson, University of North Texas
Eric Benson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Additional Programming on
Saturday, October 10

Navigating the Promotion & Tenure Process
As design is a relatively young discipline in academe, the ‘P&T’ of design educators is often confusing for both faculty and administrators. With the understanding that most promotion and tenure guidelines are institutionally specific, discuss broad best practices with academics who have been through the process and now serve as external reviewers.
Julie Spivey, University of Georgia
Ned Drew, Rutgers University-Newark

Preparing Students for Interactivity
Interaction designers have the ability to influence the future development of products, systems and services in fields as diverse as education, healthcare, banking, business, and more. Visual Communication and Graphic Design majors are poised to participate in this discipline with some
additional tools added to their toolkit during their undergraduate education. Join this roundtable to discuss and learn about IxD education from both an academic and industry perspective.
Troy Abel, Key Lime Interactive, Formerly at Virginia Tech
Allison Puff, Farmingdale State College (SUNY)

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.
  • David Cabianca

    Could the DEC please provide some clarification? If one combines 3 new members with 3 outgoing members for a total of 16, then 11 out of 16 DEC Steering Committee members are either moderators, charrette leaders or participants. Is there a reason for that? One of the reasons I always thought that the AIGA DEC events were so effective, was that they created opportunities for emerging faculty to add a line to their CV on a competitive basis, but these numbers suggest cronyism. Is a guaranteed position as a panel moderator, charrette leader or participant position one of the perqs for those on the DEC Steering Committee? This seems to be an issue of transparency. Please explain.

    • Annabelle Gould

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your query. The Design Educator Conference takes place in conjunction with the AIGA National Conference and is organized by the DEC rather than a single institution such as York or Oregon State. This year the Educator Conference is less than a full day (only 8:30–1:30) making the programming extremely challenging to plan. Given those time constraints and the event location we did not call for proposals. This wasn’t meant to be insular or suggest cronyism. As a diverse group of educators we collectively decided on the panel topics based on previous conferences and conversations we’ve had with other educators across the country. There are a lot of people contributing the conference who are not on the DEC.

      For the record, moderators are not comped for the Educator conference. As a moderator during one such panel, I am paying my way to the Educator Conference, despite the fact that I volunteer a hefty amount of my time to the DEC Steering Committee. Several members of the DEC are also paying their own way. This is a policy set by the National office. Chapter Presidents, unless they are speaking, also pay their own way into the conference.

      In the future, we will be more transparent about this. The DEC organizes the Education Conference that is associated with the national conference. Given the short duration of this conference we opted not to call for proposals. We are confident the programming is diverse and interesting, and we hope you will consider attending.



      • David Cabianca

        Thank you Annabelle. I have no objections to such arrangements as often, planning has to happen on short notice. I just would ask that it be codified as part of AIGA practice and posted in procedures or bylaws somewhere. It is important particularly when it is an organization that represents members, and collects fees. Thank you.