Looking Ahead in 2024
(pictured above: the DEC Steering committee at the 2023 Lens Symposium in New York City. Not pIctured: Yvette Shen, Lisa Mercer, and Lee-Sean Huang).

This past year was an exciting and productive one for the AIGA Design Educators Community (DEC).

2023 was another banner year for the Design Educators Community. From programming, events, and initiatives, to formal and informal conversations, we all gathered together (online and in person) with the goal of improving our space and community. As we begin our journey into 2024, we’d like to reflect on the DEC’s highlights of 2023. 

Our steering committee continued to serve a wide-range of interest areas with members spread throughout the U.S. In May, Natalie Tyree (Western Kentucky University) was promoted to Co-Chair and we welcomed three new members: Zack Tucker (Miami University), Lisa Maione (Kansas City Art Institute), and Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton (The University of Texas-Austin). WIth every iteration of the DEC, this group continues to extend its reach with the aim of diversifying areas of focus through the pursuit of new initiatives, while continuing to strengthen ongoing programming and efforts.

In 2023 we hosted six Virtual Events ranging from listening sessions about AI, and conversations about sustainable design, diversifying design, using social media as an educational tool, as well as non-traditional grading practices. In October, the DEC hosted Lens, a 1-day symposium at Parsons School for Design alongside the AIGA National Conference in New York City. Lens invited contributors to analyze and understand how we see, interpret, and create visual communication from interdisciplinary viewpoints. This event boasted 100+ attendees and was jam-packed with programming from paper presentations to panels and workshops. Conversations on design education were also infused into the national conference programming during topical break-out sessions.

Yvette Shen continued the work began by Kyuha Shim on the Design Educators Survey. This culminated in the curating and synthesizing of some of the data into an informative resource for our community. Yvette and her team plan to continue to analyze the results and we hope to publish a report for the wider community soon. To gain better insight on program offerings and to connect fellow design educators, Lisa Mercer developed our Design Program Survey, a living database of design education programs that continues to populate.

The year also saw the publication of Volume 5, Issue 1 (Fall 2023) of the design education academic journal Dialectic, showcasing work from thirteen authors on topics as varied at Cyberfeminism, a call for designers to refrain from “Recolonizing Artisan Communities in Emerging Economies”, a discussion of values and equity in design education, a look at Ivan Illich’s “Definition of Conviviality”, and a history of “Activist-Designers in the Chicano Movement” in the United States. This issue, and past issues, can be found at the Dialectic website. Editorial work supporting two more issues of Dialogue, the proceedings and other publications of the AIGA Design Educators Community, also took place in 2023, and we will be announcing the publication of these issues early this year. One issue will present work submitted about and from the 2021 SHIFT{ed} Summer Summit, and features short papers, long papers, and a slate of visual essays from eighteen authors. The other issue highlights the work culminating from the 2022 Design + Writing Fellowship which focused on interrogating the visual essay as a form for communication and research; this publication features exciting visual essays from sixteen authors. All the work published by Dialectic and Dialogue has been rigorously peer-reviewed and edited, and showcases the breadth and depth of the important work being done by the design education community. 

We wrapped up 2023 with our 2nd annual “10 Days of DECember”, a fun social media event. Members contributed fun “gifts” to our community including festive recipes, design resources, and activities. If you didn’t catch it in December, you should take a look now! 

This year, our wish is that design educators continue to collaborate and join with the wider design education community, both in the U.S. and around the world, to continue the work of examining what design is and ought to be, how we might continue to inspire young people to use design thoughtfully and ethically, and ways we can continue to work together to keep our community a vibrant and supportive place.

Liese Zahabi and Natalie Tyree, DEC Steering Committee Co-Chairs, 2023-2024

By Natalie Tyree and Liese Zahabi
Published January 29, 2024
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