Teaching Sea Changes

Andrea English
Lecturer
Department Of Design
San José State University

How can design education facilitate the relationship between the deepest passions of students and today’s urgent needs? How can design curricula teach students to creatively presence transformation, meaning, and compassion? The BA Senior capstone class at SJSU engages students at the creative intersection of their lives, their work, and the world. Starting with the premise that creativity sources within each of us, students design their “calling intentions” and clarify what meaningful work means to them. They envision products, services, projects, or initiatives that can inspire and influence sea changes. These spring from a deeply authentic place within themselves and address issues including water, human rights, gender equality, and more. Through lectures, workshops, visualizations, and storytelling, they begin to design work worth doing.

This presentation briefly introduces the innovative and integrative Sea Change Design Process® (designed by Lauralee Alben) on which this course is built, and showcases student design projects that result from a semester-long exploration. The student work visualizes highly abstract ideas; leverages personal calling intentions into organizational intentions, offers holistic approaches to solution-finding, and explores the relationship between design and human experience.

Be Good to Me: How Advertising Students Made San Jose Think Twice About Illegal Dumping

John Delacruz
Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University

Creativity is a powerful driver for brand communications. Entertaining and engaging, we tell the world stories across media channels that encourage consumption and allow brands a central role in shaping identities, communities and history. The skills learnt by students on creative programs can be a force for good. As educators in the field of advertising and other creative industries we should be guiding our students to make ethically minded decisions, not just to continue the cycle of consumption of which we, as communicators, are integral spokes.

In this case study they learn the importance of empathy and how this becomes a strength in the communications process, they learn to respond to a real life client and a real life target group. They also learn about issues that impact the community, the environment, and become better informed citizens. Our students have grown up with social currency, they are a sharing generation, global citizens, media aware and ethically minded. They are already switched on to alternative futures and therefore open to guidance on how to use their creativity for good.

This case study will focus on one specific example of service learning from the advertising program at San Jose State University. Our client was the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Division in collaboration with CommUniverCity. The brief was to inform citizens of San Jose about illegal dumping. Our students crafted a campaign that spoke of the relationships between our everyday stuff and ourselves, reminding us to treat our treasures with respect when the time comes to let them go. They worked in an agency team and learnt about issues affecting urban neighborhoods and the environment. The program offered them experience reflecting the world of work and the world around them, civic responsibility and storytelling. They have hopefully become informed, engaged and aware citizens as well as effective and creative communicators.

Making Small Things: Robots, Cracks, and Hamburgers

Whether exploring meditations on a single theme, embracing new materials or studying the affects of repetition and reproduction, designer Chris St. Cyr’s work exploits both the familiar and the unknown.

Chris St.Cyr
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
The College of Saint Rose

cracksMake some thing. Somewhere between morning routines, client projects and preparing for a class there is time to create something… a small something. Over time, these creations may evolve into larger projects or they can remain a collection of random ideas waiting for connections to given them form. The trick is to think small— a two-minute sketch, a single bullet item, one typeface, one principle, two constraints, no command z, a page, or one post.

hamburgersOver the past five years I’ve developed a series of small personal projects that continue to evolve and grow. Social media is part of the production process. It is used to start conversations and provides a place for my creations to exist on their own and to engage with a globally networked community. One project, an investigation of the efficiency of modular design systems and has evolved from building 3D Lego structures to using Lego block printing to create a system of robot symbols for use on T-shirts, stickers, and in augmented reality. In another project (perhaps a reaction against the Lego project) old rub down press type is used as a catalyst for the investigation of randomness, reaction, and flow. Here there is very little control and rubbing cracked letterforms onto sketchbook paper gives form to the compositions which are then scanned, manipulated and printed, all of which adds another layer of uncertainty to the outcome. robotsA third, and more recent project, is a meditation on the mobile menu symbol—affectionately known as the “Hamburger Menu.” More specifically it involves a series of motion design experiments that explore how three horizontal lines can transition into the shape of an “X.” As the projects have changed over time one thing remains consistent—they all started as a single small exploration of a design principle, material, tool or technique.

Nimble: Thinking Creatively and Strategically in the Digital Age

Robin Landa
Distinguished Professor
Michael Graves College
Robert Busch School of Design
Kean University

Employers want to hire nimble thinkers—people who are not only content experts but who also are agile in adapting to new technology and new directions in their fields. With rapid technological changes and globalization, the ability to think creatively and strategically is crucial. What employers want are creatives who can generate big ideas—platforms that build community, branded utilities, unique content as branded entertainment that is so good it competes with all entertainment, disruptive business models that benefit everyone, marketing as service, and products that make lives better.

To prepare students to be nimble thinkers, advertising design education in the digital age must incorporate problem finding and imagination preparation. Students must learn to be content creators, storytellers, and create brand experiences people want to share. Students need to learn to create “pull marketing,” content that pulls people in and that is shareworthy.

Advertising design pedagogy needs to address:

  • imagination preparation so that original ideas and works can emerge
  • the methods to teach content creation people will find engaging, relevant or beneficial
  • advertising as content creation, with the credo: entertain; inform; be useful; or do good.

This presentation focuses on advertising design pedagogy, on teaching students to be nimble.