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Look Back / Look Ahead.

The AIGA Design Educators Board proudly unveiled many ongoing initiatives during 2019 that directly support educators, and there are numerous projects and opportunities in the works for 2020. Here is a recap of accomplishments and challenges, and a preview of the year ahead.

Dialogue: Conference Proceedings

We are thrilled to have recently published proceedings from Decipher (Volume 1 and Volume 2)! Proceedings from MAKE are forthcoming (99.99% done). Many projects are coming to fruition that have been in the works— we have invested time and energy in building a long term, sustainable way to streamline this process for forthcoming conferences and have a wonderful partnership with Michigan Publishing. Also, proceedings from Frontier even made their debut!

Design Education Conferences

Traditionally, DEC co-hosts standalone conferences in the fall/spring months opposite from AIGA national conferences. AIGA DEC didn’t host a standalone conference in the fall of 2019 because we adjusted to the new AIGA Conference cycle, transitioning with two standalone conferences in 2018. The next standalone DEC conference is Sept 2020 in Duluth, and there will be a full education track within the 2020 AIGA National conference this spring per usual.

Design Teaching Resource

The amazing (and free) Design Teaching Resource made its debut and is going strong. Please continue contributing projects and don’t be shy— utilize the resource! As faculty across the country continue to post, share and reference curricula, the vitality of the resource builds and builds.


Academic journals take a herculean amount of effort to create and achieve, especially when created to be open source (accessible!). Presenting the highest level of visual and written content only adds to the challenge. Under the leadership transition, AIGA demonstrated support to DEC by helping fund the two issues of Dialectic already in progress, and we are currently working with AIGA to figure out how to fund the journal in a long-term sustainable manner now that funding models of AIGA have shifted (more about that below).

The latest issue of Dialectic (Volume II, Issue II) is now available to download online. Printed copies are available for purchase through Amazon. Congratulations to all those involved— this is a major achievement and we are grateful to the Dialectic Editorial and Advisory boards, and AIGA for supporting this important work.

Funding Changes

2019 was a challenging year in terms of finances. The entire AIGA organization worked to transition to an entirely different financial model and this impacted the DEC’s budget and methods of funding. One example of this impact is the disappearance of funding for faculty grants; the AIGA DEC budget was essentially taken to zero and has rebuilt from the ground up. Because of the limbo at AIGA during the executive leadership search, the DEC has been waiting on some topics to fully move forward— and we are raring to go.

AIGA’s support for design educators continued to be evident during the transitional period. Did you know there is now an AIGA staff member who splits their time working on both Design Education and Design Futures? If not, meet Lee-Sean Huang, Design Education Manager.

Let’s Connect in Pittsburgh

The folks currently serving as the DEC Board are a group of volunteers passionate about serving educators and advocating for design education. Represented are many different types of academic institutions, teaching and professional roles, levels of experience, geographic locales, pedagogical approaches and research interests. We will all be present at the 2020 AIGA Conference— so, come by the Educator’s booth in the Design Fair and attend sessions in the Education Symposium (schedule currently being finalized and forthcoming). We have a phenomenal line-up of speakers, and we are excited to have Derek Ham as our keynote during this event!

In Closing

AIGA is supporting education and continuing to invest in higher education like never before. We have been working very closely with the AIGA Staff and Board leadership to keep education and decisions impacting education mindfully included in the decision-making process. The DEC will continue advocating for education, and are excited to navigate the way forward in the stronger, more fiscally stable AIGA environment.

At the time of this writing, the new AIGA Executive Director, Bennie F. Johnson, has just been announced. The DEC is looking forward to a collaborative and dynamic relationship ahead, and the new forward momentum of AIGA. Welcome, Bennie!

Amy Fidler & Meaghan Dee
Co-Chairs DEC Steering Committee

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