Design Educators Community

Proposed Initiatives from the Design Educators Community

April 16, 2014 / By aigaeducators

Educators, please comment on the proposed initiatives listed below. These are currently under review by the AIGA Board.

Proposed initiatives for funding by the AIGA are as follows:

1. A Peer-reviewed AIGA Design Education journal. This journal would publish papers produced at design educator conferences in addition to other juried submissions. Such a scholarly journal will build educator recognition of the AIGA, increase educator membership, and will provide a valuable resource to educators as well as practitioners.

2. Design Projects Repository Initiative. This initiative is an on-line resource for design educators to share assignments and project documentation including learning goals, schedule/deliverables, outcomes (a gallery of final work) and reflections.

3. Design Education Community Promotional Materials. These materials would be distrib-uted at conferences and other events, in addition to a yearly mailing, to raise awareness of the DEC among design educators.

4. Funding for Conference Video Archives to support video documentation of AIGA Design Educator conferences.

5. General Requests to Increase Educator Outreach:

  • A consistent connection between the DEC and the National Board
  • A sponsorship packet specifically focused on the Design Education Community
  • Educator presence in all AIGA national level programming
  • A discretionary budget beyond sponsorship


For young graphic design students, the years spent in a classroom differ from their early years in a design studio—and that’s a good thing. Graphic Design educators craft student experiences that encourage both experimentation and reflection—both inside and outside the constraints of commerce. The purpose of a design classroom is not to mimic the work environment—an old-fashioned apprenticeship would better serve this purpose. Instead educators use this space to teach design skills and methods to students while simultaneously empowering these students to critically engage with larger cultural issues—sustainability, ethics, social justice, etc. Set apart from the pressing deadlines and budget constraints of a typical design job, students and educators contribute to a greater body of theoretical knowledge and vision. This new knowledge then feeds back into commercial practice, slowly redefining the profession as each new group of graduates goes out into the world.

With this understanding of design education in mind, we have outlined our 2014 AIGA Design Educator proposals for initiative support and general funding from AIGA. This proposal provides various opportunities to reach and support the endeavors of design educators. AIGA lies at the intersection of the professional and educational contingents of the design community. We are eager to collaborate with AIGA to define how these groups (which already have many members in common) may inform and assist each other.


Download Full Proposal Here (pdf)

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.
  • Chase C. Bachtell

    As a student, I agree that all of these proposed initiatives are not only excellent measures, but necessary for the progression of our design programs. These initiatives allow our community to retain the ideals that make it such a tight knit body of people, but also encourages educators to produce more and produce better projects. Proposed initiative No. 2 is a genius idea that I believe is a novel and can become a creative outlet for our educators that would only help to inspire which in turn inspires students like myself.

    I’m in favor for all the proposed initiatives and hope to see all of these signed and put into place.

    Chase C. Bachtell

  • Leslie Friesen

    Very excited about the Design Project Repository. That would be an excellent resource for educators and way to share best practices.

  • David Deal

    I am looking forward to AIGA board supporting these initiatives. It would be an advance for the profession.

  • disqus_KoJuVrhpnr

    As a junior, tenure track faculty member, publications mean a ton. I would love to see a peer reviewed journal championed by the AIGA.

  • Kathryn Weinstein

    As a member of AIGA and as a design educator, I am a strong advocate of all of these proposed initiatives. I am hopeful that the AIGA board will approve the funding requests and support the growing design educators community within AIGA.

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  • Eva Roberts

    As a member of AIGA over the past few decades, both as a practicing designer and as a faculty member, I have been pleased to see AIGA pay some increased attention to the role of design educators. The initiatives proposed by DEC deserve support from the AIGA board. Design students represent the profession’s future and indeed, the future of AIGA.

  • Juliette Cezzar

    As a board member of my local chapter (AIGA/NY) working on educational initiatives and a tenure-track junior faculty working alongside faculty from other disciplines, I think it’s crucial for the elevation of the discipline to have its own peer-reviewed journal. The projects repository is also a fantastic idea, though part of that sharing could also happen through the journal. Thank you all for putting forward these initiatives!

  • Rosanne Gibel

    The Peer reviewed journal is an essential element to our growth as an academic discipline. The projects repository is also an excellent idea. Both of these have been discussed for some time and it would be great to see these ideas come to fruition. Several of the other ideas that propose more direct communication to the DEC community will be very helpful. For those of us with weak or distant local chapters, it will help create an even stronger link to the support we get from AIGA as an organization.

  • Janis Dougherty

    As a junior faculty member I am thrilled to see these proposed initiatives and hope beyond hope they come to fruition. A peer-reviewed journal will be an excellent resource for all design educators. A projects repository is an excellent idea as it lets us share our best with everyone. As good design cannot be created in a vacuum, affective and meaningful instruction can’t either.

  • Robert Canger

    Graphics Design instructor for 19 years –
    I’m not in agreement with an archive of best assignments and project repository. It would foster trite homogenized results. At first it could possibly be viewed as a plus for instructors but could eventually become the FCAT of graphic design.
    I commend everyone at AIGA for thinking of ways to help and please don’t stop.
    It’s just possible that all instructors are not great instructors and all students are not great designers, but great designers will be great, despite instruction.

  • Erin Beckloff

    As both a design educator and MFA student I highly support the initiatives of the DEC — design educators and AIGA student chapters are vital to the continued growth and strength of the profession and therefore AIGA as an organization. A Peer-Reviewed Journal and Video Archive of conference presentations would be extremely valuable resources for all graphic designers.

  • Elisabeth Spillman Nord

    As an educator, AIGA member and MFA student, I applaud the above initiatives that will benefit educators and the design community at large, particularly the Project Repository and the Design Journal. Thank you! Looking forward to seeing these come to life.

  • sharokinb .

    This is very
    inspiring. I find all proposed initiative essential,
    especially the following: #s 2, 4, and 1, in order of importance. As a graduate
    educator and coordinator at SCAD SAV and SCAD eLearning, one of my goals is to
    help foster the development a student-led graduate symposium, conference or
    Do-Ference (see Design Ethos Do-Ference
    I’d love to see DEC’s perspective on similar initiatives.

    My favorite part of
    the above proposal is “The purpose of a design classroom is not to mimic
    the work environment—an old-fashioned apprenticeship would better serve this
    purpose. Instead educators use this space to teach design skills and methods to
    students while simultaneously empowering these students to critically engage
    with larger cultural issues—sustainability, ethics, social justice, etc.” This
    is precisely why I chose to be an educator. Perhaps the DEC proposal can also
    recommend specifics goals and objectives in addressing issues of social
    justice, anti-racism, ethics, sustainability, etc. in context to educator
    training and student training. True and authentic empathy, without guilt and
    imperialistic mindsets, provide designers the opportunity to really listen,
    provide tools, and create sustainable projects that are co-created by their
    users. I personally have no tolerance for a future shift in design education
    without addressing issues of privilege and sustainability in context to
    classroom setting. As design educators/students, if we can address designing
    for marginalized communities in context to ecological, social and economic
    justice/privilege, it may just be possible to shape sustainable communities in
    the real world!

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