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Spaces of Learning

April 16 – 18, 2015
School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada



This conference seeks to activate three conversational platforms embedded in the conference title:

• Design Education as Interface
• Design Education as Diverse Cultural and Social Space
• Design Education as Political Space

The conference will explore the idea that graphic design education is rapidly evolving: the social spaces we work in, and the practices of teaching and learning we engage with, are themselves mediated by larger contexts of social, cultural, political and technological change.

Mindful of these changing contexts our conference will seek to pose questions about the assumptions we make about the relationship between making design, thinking about design, asking questions about design and theorizing design in as open and potentially interdisciplinary a framework as possible.

We will also address how, as a specific discipline of making, we are uniquely placed to explore the limits of the emerging conversation about visual communication and visual culture in contemporary spaces of learning.


Conference Committee:

David Gelb
Assistant Professor
Graduate Program Director
Department of Design
York University

Robert Gill, PhD
Department of Design
York University

Angela Norwood
Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Design
York University



Design Education as Interface
Contemporary design education makes complex demands on educators to be both futurists and subject-matter experts. From both inside and outside of professional and disciplinary spaces, educators are tasked with identifying and articulating new interfaces of learning to prepare future designers for yet to be defined roles. Concurrently, students are navigating between alternative positions of user/outside and maker/inside of new, unfamiliar spaces of graphic design practice.
Graphic design education is being challenged at unprecedented levels to address the continued technological and pedagogical shifting of new platforms and processes. For design educators some questions might follow from this: What is an interface? What is the range of subjective interface experiences open to teachers, students and designers?
How does graphic design education understand changing notions of time, space, embodiment, sense, movement, attention, vision and desire? As technologies rapidly evolve, how does designing for and in unfamiliar spaces impact graphic design education?
What new pedagogies are needed to match contemporary circumstances? What has to be given up as the curriculum expands? How can design education lead industry through thought and practice as opposed to creating a new generation of production workers? How can critical pedagogies confront seductive trends and enrich the disciplinary objectives of established learning spaces? In what way do graphic design curricula respond to designing for the new and the unfamiliar and how does this unfamiliarity impact the roles of the design educator and student?

Design Education as Diverse Cultural and Social Space
As many introductory textbooks on anthropology, sociology, media studies, communications studies, cultural studies or visual culture will tell us, ‘culture’ is one of the most contested words in the English language. Indeed, we use the word culture in a variety of often inconsistent ways in our daily speech: to use the term culture is, alternately, an attempt to represent ‘ethnicity’ or ‘race’ or community or language or ‘high culture’ or ‘art’ and the complex intersections between these phenomena.
When we are in those spaces where culture is constructed — the design education classroom is our primary space — we are also in social spaces where ideas and projections of Self and Other are constructed, contested and negotiated.
For design educators some questions might follow from this: How can we engage with our students’ encounters with visual, popular and other forms of cultural experience in order to cultivate a deeper sense of curiosity, interest and engagement in the larger design process? What does the discourse of ‘culture’ mean to our students and how can we critically engage with and unpack those meanings?
What is the role of voice and story in the process of interculturality and hybridity? How might the experience of being ‘hyphenated’ add to the exploration of story for design students and teachers alike? How do we engage with these stories?

Design Education as Political Space
No doubt design education is a political and contested space. Design programs everywhere are involved in discussions about their relevance and the nature of it in rapidly changing socio-economic contexts. More intimately within these spaces, design educators and students are interacting within paradigms of gender, race, class, sexuality, dis/ability and other factors that influence power dynamics.
Then, as resources shrink, the need to activate real democratic processes in increasingly diverse classrooms expands; as the expectation of meeting the neo-liberal ideal of student-as-worker-bee consensus widens, the possibility of supporting the contestation that democracy requires narrows. For design educators some questions might follow from this: Who is the Insider in graphic design education? Who is the Outsider?
What are the ethical and pedagogical spaces between Insider and Outsider? What are the larger political macro-forces shaping our micro-experiences in design education and how do we address those forces? Is it the job of design-educators-as-Insiders to convert students to be Insiders, too?
How do design educators negotiate the liminal terrains of the industry (not fully inside or fully outside) and of the academy (not always fully inside or fully outside)? How do our non-design academic colleagues and our non-academic design colleagues perceive what we do? How might understanding these perceptions help us prepare students for the difficult movement between Inside and Outside, between Insider and Outsider?



Denise Gonzales Crisp: Graphic Design, the New Old Discipline
Crisp is a graphic designer, writer, educator, and curator bi-located in Raleigh, NC, and Los Angeles, CA. She is Professor of Graphic Design, in the College of Design at North Carolina State University, where she served as Department Chair from 2002 to 2006. Her design work and writing are widely published in print and digital publications including Design Observer, Eye Magazine, Items Magazine, Design and Culture Journal, Book 2.0, Design Research (Brenda Laurel, 2003), The Designer as…Author, Producer, Activist, Entrepreneur, Curator, and Collaborator: New Models for Communicating (Steven McCarthy, 2013), and Graphic Design: History in the Writing (1983–2011), (Catherine de Smet, Sara De Bondt, 2012). Her work has also been exhibited in the US and Europe. Denise is the author of the college-level textbook Graphic Design in Context: Typography, (Thames & Hudson, 2012).

Carl DiSalvo: Design Education as Political Practice
DiSalvo is an Associate Professor in the Digital Media Program in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. At Georgia Tech he directs the Public Design Workshop, which is a design research studio that explores socially-engaged design practices and civic media. He also is the co-director of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing. DiSalvo publishes regularly in design, science and technology studies, and human-computer interaction journals and conference proceedings and he serves on the editorial board of the journal Design Issues. His first book, Adversarial Design, is part of the Design Thinking, Design Theory series at MIT Press. DiSalvo’s experimental design work has been exhibited and supported by the ZKM (Center for Art & Media), Grey Area Foundation for the Arts, Times Square Arts Alliance, Science Gallery Dublin, and the Walker Arts Center. He holds a Ph.D. in Design from Carnegie Mellon University (2006).

Sanne van der Beek: Inside Out/Outside In — Design as Open
Sanne van der Beek is a cultural scientist (MA). She works as academic researcher, journalist, project coordinator and editor. Her work focuses on popular visual culture, with a special interest in design, fashion, new technology and urban issues. Van der Beek currently programs and produces the monthly live talkshow and digital magazine Stadseven (Citylife) about urban developments. She also works as a programmer for StadsSalon, a modern salon and exhibition space for meetings on architecture, design, arts and the cultural sector. Prior to this she worked as a project coordinator for the Creative Industries Research Center Amsterdam (CIRCA) and the Digital Humanities Center at the University of Amsterdam and she writes about design, fashion and new media for various clients. Her research always places her subjects in relation to broader cultural developments and can be considered as a thought experiment to open up the traditional discourse and explore new ways of thinking.


Pre-conference Workshops

Bobby Campbell, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Megan Hall, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Challenges to Integrating Multicultural Knowledge in the Graphic Design Classroom

Sheila Sampath, The Public Studio
Patricio Davila, Ontario College of Art and Design University
Power, Politics and Praxis: Reimagining Design Education

Rita Saad, Lebanese American University
Simon Mhanna, Toronto Design Offsite Festival
The Weave: Designing Culturally Sensitive Briefs Through Narratives

Troy Abel, Virginia Tech
David Gelb, York University
Human-Computer Design: A Practice-based Framework

Pecha Kucha with Emerging Researchers
Hosted by James March



Meta Newhouse. How to overcome obstacles to interdisciplinary teaching and learning

Rukmini Ravikumar, Allison Puff. Business of Design Advocacy on University Campuses

Julie Spivey, Annabelle Gould. Business of Design Advocacy on University Campuses

Anther Kiley (the pop-up risograph project). Out of Our Depth

Christopher Graves. Interdisciplinary Collaborative Experiences in Graphic Design Education for Real World Success

Courtney Marchese, Peggy Bloomer. Studio, eLearning,and hybrid teaching: developing production skills and higher-level thinking

Susan Verba, Sara Alway-Rosenstock. 100 Students, 28 majors: Teaching Design Across the Curriculum

Lucy Brown. The Non-Linear Landscape of the Creative Process: Exploring Entry-Level Perception

Rukmini Ravikumar, Kenneth FitzGerald. For Future Administrators: the Business of Design Advocacy on University Campuses

Julie Spivey, Amy Fidler. A New AIGA Journal for Design Education: Meet Dialectic and Dialogues

Patty Harris. Evolution of a typeface: Blackletter


Paper Presentations

[Touching Spaces]

Nicole Beno, York University. Haptic Methods and Materiality as Interface

Jenn Stucker. Bowling State University. Inner & Outer Learning Spaces, Small Worlds, Coincidence and Serendipity

Robert Winward, Utah State University. Counterbalancing the Interface of High Tech with High Touch

Annabelle Gould, University of Washington. What Does Form-Giving Look Like in Graphic Design Education Today?


[Transformational Spaces]

Denielle Emans, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar and Basma Hamdy, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar. Culture in a Box: Reshaping community-based narratives into visual constructs

M. Genevieve Hitchings, New York City College of Technology CUNY, Dan Wong New York City College of Technology CUNY, Kathryn Weinstein, Queens College CUNY. Barbarians at the Gate —The Politics of Design Education

Bobby Campbell, University of North Carolina, Charlotte and Megan Hall, University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Naturalizing Multicultural Knowledge in Graphic Design Curricula

Hannah Smotrich, University of Michigan. Teaching Intercultural Competencies


[Interactive Spaces]

Karin von Ompteda, Ontario College of Art and Design University. Data Provocation

Mark Sanders, Maryland Institute College of Arts. Writing Design: Coding and Decoding Visual Communication

Ann McDonald, Northeastern University. Inferface: Seeing and Sharing What We Know (and Don’t)


[Public Spaces]

Wendy Wong, York University. The Power of Symbols: Civil disobedience as design education in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement

Brian Delevie, University of Colorado Denver. Design Citizens: Is Education a Catalyst for Systemic Change?

Cate Roman, Woodbury University. Igniting Curiosity: A Discourse in Culture & Meaning for the Undergraduate Graphic Design Student


[Play Spaces]

Heather Shaw, Lesley College of Art and Design and Brian Lucid, Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Interfaces of Play: Teaching interactive design through physical and digital prototyping.

Emily Rice, Kansas City Art Institute and Eric Winter, Avila University. The pedagogy of Play: Fostering flow states as a tool for design thinking

Svetlana Kasalovic, Moorpark College. Design as an Activity


[Multimodal Spaces]

Isabel Meirelles, Ontario College of Art and Design. University. From Wow to Why: Information Design as Interface for Learning

James March, Sheridan College. Coming Undone: Transformational Shifts in Interactive Thinking and Its Effect On Design Education

Troy Abel, Virigina Tech. Design Education: Out of the Bauhaus Studio, and into the lab- applied practice and the HCI connection a new interface for learning


[Questioning Spaces]

Brian Donnelly, Sheridan College. After the Avant-Garde: Authorship and Critique in Design Education

Niberca Polo, Parsons New School of Design. Trans-disciplinary Outside-ness: Propelling Graphic Design Education into the Realm of Imagined Futures

Krishna Balakrishnan, York University. A Guide to Image-making Inspired by the Vishnu Dharmottara


[Interpretive Spaces]

June Lawrason, Ontario College of Art and Design University. Embracing Cultural Identity to Avoid Stereotypical Notions, Sensitivities and Misrepresentations

Denielle Emans, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar and Kelly Murdoch-Kitt, Rochester Institute of Technology. Creating significant change through redirective design pedagogy

Iain Macdonald, Edinburgh Napier University and Myrna MacLeod, Edinburgh Napier University. How can design students develop intercultural competencies using critical approaches to global consumerism?


[Transitional Spaces]

Sandy Kedey, Ontario College of Art and Design University and Ann Urban, Urban & Co. Inc. The End of Teaching As We Know It

Arzu Ozkal, San Diego State University. Design Non-design

Erin Hauber, IBM Design, Design Education at IBM Design as Interface for Industry and Educators


[Experimental Spaces]

Jonathan Hanahan, Washington University. Learning to “Design” in the Thick Interface

Jimmy Luu, St. Edward’s University, Speculative Pedagogy — Why Design Education Needs Design Fiction

Hannah Park, Memphis College of Art and Catherine Normoyle, Memphis College of Art. Critiquing Failure: An Assessment Toolkit for Social Design


[Structural Spaces]

Nancy Snow, Ontario College of Art and Design University and Saskia van Kampen, Ontario College of Art and Design University. Thinking, Making, Reflecting: Design Process and the Beginning Design Student

Brad Tober, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Evaluation, Gamified: Developing Flexible Rubrics to Incentivize the Design Process and Recognize Differential Expectations Across Student Levels (Lessons from the Vertical Studio)

Jessica Wexler, Purchase College SUNY and Yasmin Khan. Workshop Project

Original site design by Jacob Colosi BDES ’16, Angelina Tjhung BDES ’16

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