Culture Clash as Design Curriculum

By Mark Biddle, Ann McDonald and Audra Buck-Coleman.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Graphic designers give form to the media stream we consume every day. The rhetorical strategies in visual communication strongly influence how we think, vote, spend and live, thus, designers occupy positions of power in a global information culture. Along with this power comes the responsibility not only to serve client interests but also to be pro-active in support of community and society.

Presenters will report on Sticks + Stones, an ongoing multi-university collaboration that expands the traditional objectives of undergraduate design education by exploring inter-cultural issues among groups of students diverse in their ethnicity, religious practice, heritage, gender, and sexual orientation. Messages that miscommunicate or create unintended reactions are often born out of ignorance. The principle axiom driving Sticks + Stones is that the more we know about each other, the better we can shape expression for increasingly diverse populations.

The project curricula are challenging and unorthodox, sometimes encouraging students to confront, insult and label one another on the road to self-awareness and more informed perspectives. Museum tours and interschool conferences with guest facilitators help students gain a deeper understanding of the role design has played in both communicating propaganda and encouraging tolerance.

Project effects will be discussed including public events, exhibitions, interschool collaboration and an emphasis on “making” as a vital component in pedagogy. Sticks + Stones activity planned for 2010 will include participation by design students in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.

Keywords: Social Responsibility, Education, Collaboration, Experimental Curriculum

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.53-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.557MB).

Mark Biddle

Professor of Art, Department of Visual Arts, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, USA

Mark received the Master of Fine Arts Degree from Indiana State University in 1981. He is currently a Professor of Art, at Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah, U.S.A., where he has served as department chair and as coordinator of the program in Visual Communication for more than twenty years. His professional design work, for clients in both the public and private sectors, has won awards at regional and national levels.

Ann McDonald

Assistant Professor, Department of Art+Design, Multimedia Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Ann McDonald is an assistant professor in graphic design at Northeastern University in Boston. She studied at the Institute of Design in Chicago, earned a BFA from the University of Washington in Seattle and subsequently received a MFA in graphic design from Yale University. Her research investigates collective participation at the intersection of digital and physical environments and the tension between public and private uses of the screen/image in the urban realm. Ongoing creative projects include educational games and interactive projects with social relevance that can best be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration. Exhibit and interactive design work for The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The New England Aquarium, The National Health Sciences Consortium and the American Society of Plant Biology have offered wide audiences access to complex topics.

Audra Buck-Coleman

Assistant Professor of Design, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA

Audra Buck-Coleman is an Assistant Professor of Design at the University of Maryland. She holds an MFA in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a Bachelors of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Over the course of her professional career, Buck-Coleman has written, art directed, curated, designed, authored, and directed numerous design projects, including Sticks + Stones. Her professional design work has been exhibited across the United States and abroad and has been recognized by AIGA, the American Advertising Federation, Graphis, HarperCollins, and the University & College Designers Association, among others. Her experimental design work is an investigation of storytelling through a cross-pollination of journalism and fine art. She explores these subjects through a variety of media, including motion graphics. Before joining the faculty at the University of Maryland, Buck-Coleman taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


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