Ethics of a Designer in a Global Economy: A Class on Contemporary Design Issues

By Eric Benson.

Published by The Design Collection

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

As the young graphic and industrial designers we teach graduate into an uncertain future, they must be prepared to address and help solve emerging resource and societal issues. In this course, the design student explored current and future issues facing their profession. EDGE (Ethics of the Designer in a Global Economy) is a class taught by the research-based faculty team (Eric Benson and John Jennings) that aims to help shape students into “citizens for the 21st century” through proactive, instead of reactive projects. All projects assigned in this class lived outside of the classroom to help inspire and create awareness of the issues in the local and design communities. The students work for the semester is documented online and will soon be in a printed literary journal designed by the students. Whether by an architect, industrial/fashion or graphic designer, the objects and systems that play a key role in shaping our everyday lives have been intentionally created to support a cause or to be sold in the marketplace. With that in mind the designers’ power to enact a sustainable and equitable change is profound.

Keywords: Ethics, Graphic Design, Sustainability, Industrial Design, Green Design, Diversity, Race, Ethnicity, Industrial Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.167-174. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 580.953KB).

Eric Benson

Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, Graphic Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA

Eric Benson received his BFA in graphic and industrial design from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1998. In 2006 Benson received his MFA from the University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in design and social responsibility. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His recent research includes: contributing a chapter in “A Graphic Designers Guide to Sustainable Design” (Rockport Publishing), investigating the relationship between self identity and architecture through sustainable clothing, using nature’s model (waste equals food) to guide the development of a body of analog and digital work, providing inspirational lectures on the importance of sustainable design and revamping (his sustainable education site for graphic designers) to reach a broader audience. His research has appeared in HOW Magazine, Creative Review, Communication Arts and will be featured in “Blogs: Mad About Design” (Maomao Publications in Barcelona) scheduled for release in December of 2007.


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