Questioning the Canon: Discussing Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom

Sherry Freyermuth
Assistant Professor
Lamar University

Although Meggs’ History of Graphic Design is a well-regarded and extensive textbook on the topic of graphic design history, it has been criticized for its lack of diversity in the designers and artists featured in the textbook. This short form presentation will outline the results of a History of Graphic Design project where students are tasked with analyzing the topic of diversity and inclusion in graphic design. Students must select a designer that is part of an underrepresented group and put together a persuasive presentation about why this designer must be included in the next edition of the textbook. Questions students must research and address include: What is diversity and inclusion? How does diversity and inclusion impact graphic design? How is diversity and inclusion being addressed today? How is the selected designer impacting (or has impacted) graphic design? What other steps do you think are needed to improve diversity and inclusion in graphic design?

The final student presentation outcome builds on the student’s skills in research, persuasive strategy, critical thinking, visual, written and verbal communication, as well as soft skills in empathy and team building as students are put in groups to discuss topics and assess one another’s work. The assignment helps foster discussions about the importance of inclusiveness and how it directly impacts their own professional career and has provided an opening conversation for other ways to explore this topic in the classroom and beyond.