AIGA Design Educators Community SHIFT 2020 Virtual Summit

Service Award Runner-Up

In the summer of 2020, design educators were exhausted. They had just finished a spring semester unlike any other, in which halfway through they were required to quickly transition their classes to a remote format due to a global pandemic. Many had lost access to childcare; many were home schooling their young children. As they looked ahead to the fall—another uncertain and tenuous semester as a global health crisis continued to unfold—the anxiety and lack of support they felt was palpable.

The AIGA Design Educators Community Steering Committee felt this firsthand. We knew something had to be done to support educators during such a challenging and uncertain time. Most design conferences had been cancelled or postponed, including the AIGA national conference. We decided to convene our first virtual conference to directly address the issues weighing heavily on educators. We called it the SHIFT 2020 Virtual Summit.

About the event

The events of 2020 required design educators to shift many things: priorities, expectations, formats, locations, modalities, and perspectives. The suddenness of these shifts also revealed many previously unseen or overlooked aspects of design education: weaknesses, biases, inequities, issues of accessibility—as well as opportunities for innovation and evolution. Questions lingered about what it means to be a design educator and what our role might look like in the future. The SHIFT Virtual Summit, Aug. 3-7, was a week-long online event that gathered the design education community to take stock of where we were, what we had learned, and what we wanted to do next. The summit focused on themes of Teaching, Research, and Community, with one day of the summit devoted to each theme. We wanted to create a space that allowed participants to pause, listen, reflect, and learn from each other. Through dialogue and discourse, we aimed to explore pluralistic answers to the following questions:

  • How must our teaching shift?
  • How must our research shift?
  • How must our community shift?
The content

The primary goal of the summit was to bring together as many different voices and perspectives as possible, especially those that have been historically underrepresented in conversations around design education. As such, we decided to forego the traditional call for proposals and peer review process, and instead opted for an intentional arrangement of curated content. We identified key issues and topics that were of interest to educators in the current moment, and hand-selected speakers and panelists who would provide diverse perspectives and expertise. Some of the topics addressed: inclusion in the classroom, virtual critiques, decolonial design, global community, design in k-12 education, design educators and mental health, inclusive graphic design history, tenure and promotion, sponsored research and studios, and more. View the full list of events on the DEC website: https://educators.aiga.org/shift-2020/

It was important to us that the participant experience was manageable and accessible for all, so we planned both synchronous and asynchronous content, and a schedule that accommodated multiple time zones. The events of the summit took many formats: pre-recorded panels, user-submitted videos, live panels, live virtual roundtables, and live virtual mixer sessions. All pre-recorded videos included closed captioning, and many live events included ASL interpreters. All sessions were recorded and can be viewed on the AIGA DEC Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQo7UMhLPFcb_Mbw4zCXks_BQcg337cZ7

Another fundamental aspect of the conference was to provide opportunities for connection amongst participants. Many virtual meetings and webinars tend to isolate participants and create disjointed experiences. We wanted to bring people together. Our main hub for the week was Slack. Channels were created for each of the three themes, teaching, research, community, as well as for introductions, social chatter and general announcements. Conversations about the panels and video content were carried out in Slack each day. Throughout the week, volunteers helped to moderate the conversations.

The organizers

The summit was a 100% volunteer-run event, and free and open to all design educators. AIGA DEC Steering Committee members Alberto Rigau, Liese Zahabi and Ali Place co-chaired the event. It was developed in partnership with the AIGA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. The summit would not have been possible without the DEC Steering Committee members, DEI Task Force members and numerous other educators who generously volunteered their time and effort to make the event a resounding success. We cannot thank them enough for their contributions.

To keep the summit free and open to all, we capitalized on the affordances of free digital tools and platforms, such as Slack and YouTube. The DEC received funding from AIGA National to upgrade the DEC Zoom account and to provide ASL interpretation at live sessions. 

The outcome

The SHIFT Virtual Summit was an incredible success that surpassed all our expectations. At the end of the week, 1,200 participants had registered and joined our Slack community (more than four times number of participants at the largest DEC conference to date). What surprised us even more was the global reach of the event—more than 25 countries were represented. Pre-recorded videos garnered hundreds of views. The live roundtable discussions were full of insightful and forward-thinking ideas. The Slack channels were buzzing with boisterous conversations that were thoughtful and caring. Threads popped up about crucial topics like supporting students who can’t afford laptop computers, how to teach community-oriented service learning courses remotely, and what it’s like to be a mother on the tenure track. Participants had a chance to share stories, seek advice and offer words of encouragement. It was a beautiful display of connection and community.

The outcomes of the SHIFT Virtual Summit will take the form of a Living Archive. Rather than a static collection of papers written by a handful of people, we wanted to capture ideas shared and discussed during the summit and make it accessible and editable by our attendees. The Living Archive includes resources shared, tips and tricks, ideas, links, quotes, discussions and debates, and more, culled from the Slack channels as well as the chat transcripts from live sessions. In addition, we announced a call for submissions for materials from and about the summit. We are seeking various types of submissions, including research-based papers, visual expressions, practical and hands-on submissions, and other kinds of writing which will be peer-reviewed and edited together in a publication that will also be part of the SHIFT Living Archive.

Alison Place is a design educator, researcher and practitioner. Her research examines the intersection of feminism and design as a space for radical speculation and critical making. She is currently writing a book that aims to define feminist design through key principles, methods, interviews and case studies. She is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Arkansas School of Art, and is currently serving as interim director of the graphic design program. She is also a member of the AIGA Design Educators Community National Steering Committee. Previously, she worked for more than ten years as a creative director and designer for higher education and nonprofit institutions. She earned an M.F.A. in experience design from Miami University of Ohio, and a B.S. in graphic design and journalism from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

Liese Zahabi is a graphic/interaction designer and Assistant Professor of Design at the University of New Hampshire. She received her Master of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Eastern Michigan University. She has been working as a designer for twenty years, and teaches courses in graphic design, interaction design, motion design and animation, typography, game design, user experience and design research. Liese’s academic research focuses on search as a cognitive and cultural process, and how the design of metaphoric interfaces can change the experience of digital search tasks. Her creative design work is also metaphorical and explores how the nature of search manifests itself in visual patterns and sense-making, how the digital record influences memory and our understanding of history, and how language and image intersect within the context of the Internet.

Alberto Rigau is a graduate of the Masters in Graphic Design program at NC State University’s College of Design and a Poynter Institute Visual Journalism Fellow. He pursued undergraduate studies in cultural anthropology, graphic design and photography at Syracuse University. He runs Estudio Interlínea, a design studio that engages design and anthropology through the crafting and conceptualization of brands, exhibits, way-finding systems, publications, books, architectural collaborations of an interpretative nature. Alberto’s work has been recognized here and abroad. He currently lectures on design thinking methodologies and creativity as a tool to ignite meaningful cultural experiences.

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

Teaching Design Team Collaboration Through Group Projects

Two case studies will be shown that demonstrate embedding best practices for team collaboration in the classroom.

Christine Lhowe
Assistant Professor
Seton Hall University

At the introduction of group projects in my undergraduate graphic design courses, students in various levels of their education often ask if they will be able to present the project in their portfolio to potential employers. Being that it was conceptualized as a team and multiple designers participated in the outcome, they express concern in presenting work that doesn’t exclusively belong to them. However, the design profession is largely collaborative and creatives often work on projects in teams. This presentation will showcase how I’ve utilized group projects to foster understanding of the collaborative nature of the design industry to intermediate and advanced graphic design students in a liberal arts University. 

I have embedded two learning outcomes within the course material. The first is team conceptualization. Creative teams commonly work together in developing original concepts in brainstorming sessions. The purpose of the sessions are to collectively generate ideas where value is placed in working together.Ownership of a concept may become ambiguous as some may be merged together or built on by team members. The second is entering a creative project post conceptualization. Designers are often asked to develop new creative assets while upholding an existing aesthetic for a brand, which raises the question, “was this my idea?”

Two case studies will be shown that demonstrate embedding best practices for team collaboration in the classroom. In the first, students worked together in an advanced Brand Evolution course to develop and maintain a brand across multiple digital and physical touch points. Secondly, in an intermediate Web Design course, students implemented a design system to collectively create the user interface of a large scale website. 

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.3: Fordham University on May 16, 2019.

Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago

Presentations and discussion in Research and Scholarship in Communication Design at the 108th Annual CAA Conference 2020 in Chicago.

Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Chicago
Friday, February 14, 2020

Two colloquia will be presented at the 108th Annual CAA Conference, hosted by CAA Affiliated Society, Design Incubation.

Research in Communication Design. Presentation of unique, significant creative work, design education, practice of design, case studies, contemporary practice, new technologies, methods, and design research. A moderated discussion will follow the series of presentations.

The colloquium session is open to all conference attendees.

Design Intervention and Engagement: Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2

There is a presumed canon of visual communication design, one that includes its history, theory, practice, and even the interpretation of its global impact. While it is convenient to take this canon at face value, there are alternative lenses through which we can view the field. In order to continue advancing the discipline in equitable ways, to be inclusive and engage with a variety of practitioners and users, it is important to consider a multitude of alternative viewpoints. Interventions in our attitudes happen in many ways—from envisioning how design alters the world, to methods we use to interpret design in new contexts. This panel will explore such critical interventions, uncovering new ways to re-engage with design education, design practice, and design communities.

Friday, February 14, 2020
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Hilton Chicago – Lower Level – Salon C-1

Co-Chairs

Heather Quinn
Assistant Professor
DePaul University

Nathan Matteson
Assistant Professor
DePaul University

PRESENTATIONS

Four Counter-Narratives for Graphic Design History
Augusta Rose Toppins
Associate Professor
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Women’s Vote 2020: A Case Study in Civic Design
Kelly Salchow MacArthur
Associate Professor
Michigan State University

Lost on the Trail: Investigating Hiking Wayfinding and Trail Navigation within the National Parks
Sara Mitschke
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Texas State University

Strategy + Creative: Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration
Kathy Mueller
Assistant Professor
Temple University

Jennifer Freeman
Assistant Professor of Instruction
Temple University

Hierarchical Space: How the Use of Space Creates Bias
Katherine Krcmarik
Assistant Professor
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Technological Frontiers: Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2

Recent advances in technology and improvements of accessibility allow designers to deliver meaningful experiences to broad populations of ages, cultures, abilities, etc.—those who have previously been isolated from the discourse. These rapid changes in technology have also changed the landscape of design practice (for both better and worse) creating the conditions for more collaborative and multi-disciplinary teams who leverage these new or improved tools. This panel will address research projects working at the edge of contemporary technology, across disciplines, and within emerging disciplines. They leverage technological innovation to address issues of representation and access.

Friday, February 14, 2020
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Hilton Chicago – Lower Level – Salon C-1

Co-Chairs

Alex Girard
Assistant Professor
Southern Connecticut State University

Dan Wong
Associate Professor
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

PRESENTATIONS

The Fusion of Art, Science and Technology
Min Kyong Pak
Assistant Professor
University of Southern Indiana

Chicago Design Milestones
Sharon Oiga
Associate Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago

Guy Villa Jr.
Assistant Professor
Columbia College

Daria Tsoupikova
Associate Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago

Interactive Game Design: Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves
Leigh Hughes
Assistant Professor
Coastal Carolina University

Design Delight: A Framework For The Analysis And Generation Of Pleasurable Designs
Omar Sosa-Tzec
Assistant Professor
University of Michigan

Critical Visual Analysis of Graphic Expressions of Emotions Over Time
Ann McDonald
Associate Professor
Northeastern University

A Peace of Mind: Design Research for Pervasive Healthcare
Hyuna Park
Assistant Professor
University of Kansas

Designing for the Visually Impaired
Min Choi
Adjunct Professor
San Diego State University
San Diego City College

The Hamden Hunger Project

Addressing the often-overlooked issue of food insecurity in our local community.

Courtney Marchese
Associate Professor of Interactive Media + Design
School of Communications
Quinnipiac University

Amy Walker
Assistant Professor
Journalism
Quinnipiac University

Michaela Mendygral
Design, Journalism Student
Quinnipiac University

https://www.hamdenhungerproject.com/

Over the past year, an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students from the School of Communications have worked to address the often-overlooked issue of food insecurity in our local community of Hamden. Members of the journalism and graphic design programs have been using a combination of listening booths, two-way texting, billboards, flyers, surveys, and data visuals to build a dialogue with the community. That dialogue has helped raise awareness of hunger in Hamden, and guide those in need of food to available resources near them. Through this project, we also designed a comprehensive report with the United Way of Greater New Haven to help share key findings with the town, news outlets, and government figures.

The project is part of a broader endeavor to not only “design for good,” but to embrace all that is possible in a School of Communications. Our goal is to make important data and stories more accessible–aesthetically, strategically, and verbally–while teaching students to be collaborative, informed citizens.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.1: Quinnipiac University on October 5, 2019.

Design Incubation Colloquium 5.2: CAA 2019 Conference New York

Presentations and discussion in Research and Scholarship in Communication Design at the 107th Annual CAA Conference 2019 in NYC.

Hosted by CAA Affiliated Society, Design Incubation.

Research in Communication Design. Presentation of unique, significant creative work, design education, practice of design, case studies, contemporary practice, new technologies, methods, and design research. A moderated discussion will follow the series of presentations.

Design Incubation Colloquium 5.2: CAA 2019 New York City
Thursday, February 14, 2019

10:30am–12:00pm
New York Hilton Midtown, Second Floor Regent

Abstract submission deadline: August 6, 2018.
Submit abstracts online at Colloquium Abstract Submissions.

The colloquium session is open to all conference attendees.

Co-Moderators

Liz DeLuna
Associate Professor 
Graphic Design
St John’s University

Robin Landa
Distinguished Professor
Michael Graves College 
Kean University

Presentations

10 Case Studies in Eco-Activist Design
Kelly Salchow MacArthur
Associate Professor
Michigan State University

Art, Interaction and Narrative in Virtual Reality
Slavica Ceperkovic
Professor
Seneca College

Form, Focus and Impact: Pedagogy of a 21St-Century Design Portfolio
Peter Lusch
Professor of Practice
Lehigh University, Bethlehem PA

Pitch & Roll: Exploring Low-Risk Entrepreneurship for Student Designers
Jennifer Kowalski
Professor of Instruction
Graphic Arts & Interactive Design
Temple University Tyler School of Art

Questioning the Canon: Discussing Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom
Sherry Freyermuth
Assistant Professor
Lamar University

Design Activism & Impact: How Can Principles of Social Impact Assessment Improve Outcomes of Socially Conscious Design Efforts in Graphic Design Curriculum?
Cat Normoyle
Assistant Professor
East Carolina University

Cultural Competence for Designers
Colette Gaiter
Professor
University of Delaware

Exploring Narrative Inquiry as a Design Research Method
Anne Berry
Assistant Professor
Cleveland State University

State of Flux
Natacha Poggio
Assistant Professor
University of Houston Downtown

A Taste of Miami: Mentors, Creative Teams, Award Shows

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

A mentor is a friendly guide who helps a less experienced person by demonstrating positive behaviors. To be effective, a mentor’s role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the mentee’s needs and limitations. Mentoring is important because students learn from essential knowledge and skills from their mentors whilst also providing an understanding of workplace practices. This is certainly the case in the creative industries.

The creative industries rely on mentorship practices,  they require team-working skills and the ability to learn, support and help others in an increasingly inter-disciplinary environment.  Students at San Jose State University (SJSU) aiming to enter the creative industries have been working on a project with Miami Ad School in San Francisco. Miami Ad School, a portfolio school with campuses worldwide, intensively prepares students to enter the advertising industry as art directors and copywriters. In two years students develop approaches to problem-solving, they develop their craft and become confident communicators of ideas as they learn from experienced creatives at the top of their game. In fact, MAS is guided by an active teaching and learning model where the instructor can be seen as a mentor as much as a teacher.

SJSU students have been included in MAS creative teams on a course that focuses on award show student competition briefs. The aim is to better understand how mentoring can take place within a creative team where, through active learning, undergraduate students can develop new approaches to their own practice as a result of working alongside students immersed in different pedagogies. Will these undergraduates bring a new approach back to their SJSU classes and will their work improve as a result? Expectations and reflections gathered at both the start and end of the exercise will provide valuable insights.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.

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.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Experiments in Building Empathy and Revealing Bias

Rebecca Mushtare
Associate Professor Of Web Design & Multimedia
State University Of New York At Oswego

When left to our own devices, we unconsciously design for the audience we know best—ourselves. Although some traditional-aged college students have had travel opportunities or exposure to diverse cultures and communities, most still have limited life experience, which magnifies this tendency.  If inclusivity is an ethic we want our students to adopt as professionals,  we need to do more than read and talk about empathy and bias in the classroom. These values need to be embedded in our curriculum including how we frame assignments, the way we talk about design during critique, and our evaluation systems.

Overhauling an entire curriculum, or even a course, and starting from scratch is likely not an option for most faculty. Additionally, teaching empathy and implicit bias can be overwhelming for faculty who have not been trained,  and therefore do not have the language to confidently speak on the subject. What we can do, though, is make incremental changes in our classrooms that focus on raising awareness of assumptions we make and how our choices impact our audiences. Small changes can have real impact.

In this session, I will share the successes, failures and limitations of four years of experimentation and tinkering in the courses I teach combined with my own journey to become more aware of my blindspots and biases.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz on September 9, 2017.