about this course
ART 6933 section 5858
Contemporary issues in graphic design discourse: Research, methods, theories and practice

The unprecedented breadth and depth of growth and change in the field of graphic design today places challenging and exciting new demands on and opportunities for graphic designers. In this graduate seminar we will explore what these are and their implications through how they are framed in contemporary discourse/readings, and writing, fieldwork, discussion, making, and other design activities. Our intent is to more deeply and further inform, shape, and articulate both our collective understanding of design and our design practice in this broader, strategic, and user-centered context—beyond “the making of things and beautiful things” (see “Defining the Designer of 2015,” AIGA). As a point of departure, and perhaps arrival, we will learn and apply ethnographic and allied user-centered fieldwork concepts and methods as a means to inform problem discovery, definition, and develop sustainable design solutions. Inherent in this is learning about the economic, social, and cultural contexts in which design operates, learning to be flexible and dynamic in our practice, and articulating the designer’s responsibility to society. Seminar activities will result in tangible (online, electronic, and physical) visual/textual materials that will communicate and document ideas, concepts, activities, and practices—all of which can be used as a teaching and learning tool for ourselves and others.

The syllabus, calendar, assignment sheets, and other materials are sent via email.


    Blauvelt, Andrew: Design’s Ethnographic Turn, 2007: Design Observer

    European Environmental Design Award, with downloadable catalogs

    Everydaylives.com: Ethnographic films for research, based in London

    Design for Sustainability (DfS) Links
    Alastair Fuad-Luke (there is always an implicit notion that DfS is trying to embrace
    new ways of thinking about how design can catalyse, nurture, enable and activate
    positive societal changes towards more sustainable ways of living and working.)

    Alastair Fuad-Luke: Slow design’ – a paradigm shift in design philosophy? (download PDF here)

    Orion Magazine, environmental focus

    Slow Design: SLow is a cultural space to stimulate debate around the concept of ‘slow design’.
    It links with existing thought clusters that perceive ‘design’ and ‘slowness’ as a positive influence
    towards more sustainable ways of living. It is an on-going dialogue; an open-ended project.

    Slow Lab The mission of the organization is to promote slowness or what we call ‘Slow design’
    as a positive catalyst of individual, socio-cultural and environmental well-being.

    Solnit, Rebecca. Slow Seeing (Orion – May / June 2004)