In the aftermath of an academic semester in which educators across the country, in response to the global Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, moved from in-person teaching to virtual / online learning, AIGA’s Design Educators Community (DEC) held a virtual roundtable—The Value of Design Education—in May 2020 to address two questions: 1) What value do we provide as design educators?; and 2) what are reasonable expectations to set for ourselves and our students, knowing that we can’t (and shouldn’t) recreate in-person experiences in an online format?
The switch to virtual learning may be temporary, however, the experience has shifted our collective thinking about how we operate and how we might improve the experiences of students beyond the threat of public health crises. Additionally, the rise of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and renewed national interest in addressing diverse, equitable, and inclusive teaching practices demand that we respond by continuing to learn, grow, and push ourselves and ensure that we are putting into practice what we preach.
Value Design Education, a set of working principles that serve as a foundation for enacting long-term, systemic change in design education and pedagogy, was developed as a result of the comments and feedback we received from participants in the May roundtable. We aim to provide tools that facilitate continued growth and adaptation as the world around us also continues to change.
What do you value?
Rebuilding curricula to be equitable and inclusive within the timeframe of an academic year may not be feasible for all design educators. However, incremental modifications that are managed over the course of a semester can be an important part of working towards longer-term changes. Educators are, therefore, encouraged to commit to one of the six pledge statements and adopt one or two corresponding action items to integrate into Fall 2020 curricula, whether for a single class or across multiple design courses.
This pledge is a part of a larger commitment to demonstrate accountability to society, graphic designers, design educators, audiences, class groups, and individual students. We hope you will commit and take action in ways that support your pledge.