The principle objective of this studio is to introduce students to design methodologies to research, define, propose, and implement communication design projects that respond creatively to complex and open-ended issues or challenges. Design thrives within constraints, and design research methodologies create those constraints.
We will employ generative research methods including secondary research, textual analysis, data analysis, and various forms of primary research such as expert interviews, topic discussions, and surveys. Insights gained from this research will become the basis for team-based proposals and production of public media projects. Students are expected to bring existing skills in visual rhetoric, typography, narrative, and graphic media production to this process. Students will be tasked to research a complex topic in order to extract relevant themes and information during research, then synthesize and distill these diverse inputs into compelling and informative experiences—for an audience, in a place and time, through particular media, and in a designed form.
We will apply these methodologies to the domain of public history. Public History can be generally defined as projects or processes that communicate history and historical narratives to non-academic audiences, encourage public participation, and/or apply history to present-day political or social needs. Key to such work is an understanding that there are many more voices and perspectives to be heard than those typically portrayed in the channels of traditional (capital-H) History. If history has the potential to bear witness to inequities or injustice, then public history opens the door to a broader field of actors, narrators, and viewpoints.
More specifically, we will investigate the 2008 financial crisis, also known as the “Great Recession,” ten years on. The final goal of our work is to produce an exhibition to make this topic’s history, present, and future relevant to contemporary audiences. The ultimate form of this exhibition—as a physical, digital, and/or hybrid experience—is to be determined by the design process and participating students.
Students successful in this course will:
_Demonstrate the ability to plan and implement a research agenda that include generative research methods, including secondary and primary research.
_Demonstrate the ability to extract meaningful qualitative insights from a multifaceted research agenda.
_Synthesize diverse research inputs into a creative proposal with defined objective, audience, and communication methods.
_Demonstrate creative and critical thinking skills to generate unexpected possibilities within given project constraints (e.g. time, space, money).
_Work collaboratively within various team dynamics.
_Respond to a Call for Proposals with a clear, detailed proposal based on self-guided research.
Your final grade will be a result of the quality and craft of your projects, rigorous effort throughout the semester, participation in class discussion, contribution to team-based projects, attendance, and a consistent demonstration of effort and understanding regarding the course concepts. Peer reviews will be considered alongside the instructor’s assessment for grading of group projects.
Your final grade will be comprised of the following:
Personal Mapping Project (15%)
Reading Response (10%)
Secondary Research (10%)
Research Report (25%)
Contribution to Final Project (40%)
An A will be given for work of consistently exceptional quality and craft, along with the demonstrated quality of research and investigation which produced those results, as evidenced through the final work book, class participation, and attendance.
A B will be given for work of overall good quality and craft, along with the final work book, class participation, and attendance demonstrative of a consistent understanding and application of the concepts being presented.
A C will be given for work of average quality and craft, and the minimum amount of research done to complete the projects and/or an inconsistent demonstration of understanding the concepts being presented and/or poor attendance.
A D will be given for work that is of poor quality and craft and/or consistently poor attendance or lack of class participation.
An F (failure) will be given for work of little quality, missing or incomplete projects, missing critiques and/or consistently poor attendance or lack of class participation.
Please refer to the University grading scale for more information.
Attendance in this class is mandatory. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class session. Students not present for the recording of attendance, but who arrive within 15 minutes of the class’ starting time will be recorded as Late Arrival. Two late arrivals will be counted as 1 absence. Arrival after 15 minutes from the class’ starting time will be recorded as absent, however the student may attend that day’s class. Students absent for more than the equivalent of one week (Two classes for courses meeting 2 days/week. One class for courses meeting 1 day/week) will have their final grade lowered by one full letter grade (for example, A to B). Each additional absence will result in the lowering of the final grade by another full letter (for example, B to C).
Please notify your instructor of any absences due to emergencies as soon as possible. Extended illness (one full week or longer) requires medical documentation. Students with four absences will be asked to withdraw from the course prior to the Withdrawal Deadline. Cooperative interviews are not considered excused absences and should be scheduled outside of class time whenever possible. Please notify your instructor if you will be absent for any reason.
Students will need to use their own laptop computers and required design software in class and for completion of course assignments. If you don’t already, make sure to get a USB drive or external hard-drive. ALL hard drives (internal and external) eventually fail, so file safety cannot be guaranteed on ANY computer. Always back up your files. Loss or damage of data or files is NOT an acceptable explanation for late or missing assignments. Files saved on the desktop of any UIC lab computers will not be available after logging out; you must copy to your own storage device.
Your files are your responsibility!
Time spent in the classroom will be dedicated to presentation, discussion and collaborative and self-directed studio work. Any other activities or behavior not conducive to our coursework will not be tolerated. Prohibited activities during class time include use of cell phones for talking or texting, surfing the web or social media for unrelated purposes (no facebook, no tweeting!), private conversations amongst students, rude or insulting language or behavior, and any other form of distraction from the tasks at hand. Eating in the class room is prohibited. Drinks are allowed in covered containers only.
We have a lot of exciting work to do, and our time together is valuable. Let’s make the most of it.