Friday, February 4, 2011

I Don’t Have an Undergraduate Degree in Design and I Have Little or No Professional Experience as a Designer. Will the MA in Design with a Concentration in Innovation Studies Prepare Me to Embark on a Career as a Professional Designer?

In order for almost anyone to effectively pursue and sustain a career as a professional designer—whether this career is in communication design, interior design, fashion design, industrial design or interaction design—earning an undergraduate degree (a Bachelor of Fine Arts or its equivalent) from a reputable university-level program is a must. There are a wide range of skill sets, competencies and research methods that you must master at the undergraduate level before many potential clients or most professional design consultancies could even consider hiring you, and you must have produced a portfolio of work that depicts actual proof of your abilities. Strong undergraduate programs in design also teach students to engage in processes for identifying situations (often referred to in the design community as “problems”) that require innovative thinking and real invention to improve or resolve.

Well-educated designers create an enormous cross-section of culture in modern societies, and we also heavily influence how various aspects of this culture are perceived. Because of this, designers have to spend a good deal of time learning how to build empathy for people very unlike themselves, and, once they’ve done this, they have to utilize whatever empathy they’ve built to inform the decisions they make regarding the creation and distribution or construction of visual communications, products, built environments, apparel and all kinds of interactive experiences facilitated on computing systems.

Designers also have to learn how to work iteratively, which means they have to learn how to generate, test, re-test and evaluate multiple means to address and potentially resolve the problems that were described in the first paragraph of this post. Designers also have to build aesthetic competencies—they literally have to spend a good deal of time and effort learning to utilize visual elements and principles as a means to organize configurations of diverse elements in two- and three-dimensional environments. Learning how to design with typography to structure effective websites, books, brochures, signage systems and packaging isn’t something that can be mastered by perusing a few websites and reading a couple of books. Neither is planning the construction of a garment intended for mass-production, or designing the interior of a space intended to accommodate the needs of injured or ill children.

Finally, the components, products, systems and communities that designers make actually have to work in real settings for real people, and merely learning a suite of software doesn’t mean that you can use those tools effectively to design. (It’s become fairly common for many people to confuse the ability to operate the tools that designers use with the ability to actually design using these tools.) If you’re serious about wanting to completely alter your current career path to become a designer, you need to enroll in a strong undergraduate design program. For more information on the array of strong undergraduate design programs we facilitate within UNT CVAD, please visit the following URL:

http://www.art.unt.edu/design.html

Monday, October 4, 2010

Syllabus for ADES 5520 Introduction to Design Research

The .pdf that is accessible through this portion of our Innovation Studies blog contains the syllabus and semester-long schedule for this fundamental course that is populated by both MFA and MA candidates in the Innovation Studies program. We’re making this public as a result of several requests we’ve received to post it from attendees at recent AIGA Design Educators’ conferences and the Design Research Society conference in Montreal in July of 2010.

To obtain a .pdf version of this document, please e-mail Michael Gibson at michael.gibson@unt.edu and enter “Request Intro to Design Research Syllabus” into the subject line. This .pdf will be sent to you within 3 to 5 days in most cases. Please properly cite Professor Gibson and the UNT CVAD graduate programs in Design with Concentrations in Innovation Studies if you choose to reproduce any or all portions of this material.

Approaching and engaging in research in this course is framed by some of the thinking that Nigel Cross refers to as “designerly ways of knowing” (his enlightening book that unwraps what this means is available through the Board of International Research in Design; http://www.amazon.com/Designerly-Knowing-International-Research-Design/dp/3764384840), as well as published thinking articulated by the likes of Klaus Krippendorff, Ken Friedman, Sharon Poggenpohl, Meredith Davis, Gui Bonsiepe, Richard Buchanan, Peter Jan Stappers, Jorge Frascara, Brenda Laurel and several others.

Monday, February 8, 2010

MFA Suggested 3-year Time Line

This is the suggested time line for a full-time student in the MFA in Design with a concentration in Innovation Studies.

Fall, Year 1 — 9 hours
    ADES 5532—Pedagogic Analysis and Processes — 3 credit hours
    ADES 5534—Design Pedagogy — 3 credit hours
    AEAH 5842 — History of Graphic Design — 3 credit hours.

Spring, Year 1 — 12 hours
    ADES 5538 — Guided Teaching Internship — 3 credit hours.
    ADES 5536 — University Citizenship and Tenure — 3 credit hours
    AEAH elective — 3 credit hours
    Required Interdisciplinary course — 3 credit hours

Fall, Year 2 — 9 hours
    ADES 5510 — Process and Methodology for Innovation — 3 credit hours.
    ADES 5520 — Design Research Methods I — 3 credit hours.
    Required Interdisciplinary course — 3 credit hours

Spring, Year 2 — 12 hours
    ADES 5530 — Design Research Methods II — 3 credit hours.
    ADES 5522 — Brand and Brand Experience — 3 credit hours.
    ADES 5526 — Collaborative Design Studio — 3 credit hours.
    AEAH elective — 3 credit hours.

Fall, Year 3 — 9 hours
    ADES 5546 — Practicum in Innovation Studies I — 3 credit hours.
    Required Interdisciplinary course — 3 credit hours.
    ADES 5524 — Design and Its Social Ramifications — 3 credit hours.

Spring, Year 3 — 9 hours
    ADES 5548 — Practicum in Innovation Studies II — 3 credit hours.
    AEAH elective — 3 credit hours.
    Required Interdisciplinary course — 3 credit hours.

MA Suggested 2-year Time Line

This is the suggested time line for a full-time student in the MA in Design with a concentration in Innovation Studies
Fall, Year 1 — 9 hours
    AEAH 5842—History of Graphic Design—3 credit hours.
    ADES 5510—Process and Methodology for Innovation—3 credit hours.
    ADES 5520—Design Research Methods I—3 credit hours.

Spring, Year 1 — 9 hours
    ADES 5530—Design Research Methods II—3 credit hours.
    ADES 5522—Brand and Brand Experience—3 credit hours.
    ADES 5526—Collaborative Design Studio—3 credit hours.

Fall, Year 2 — 9 hours
    ADES 5546—Practicum in Collaborative Innovation Studies I—3 credit hours.
    ADES 5524—Design and Its Social Ramifications—3 credit hours.
    Required Interdisciplinary course—3 credit hours.

Spring, Year 2 — 9 hours
    ADES 5548—Practicum in Collaborative Innovation Studies II—3 credit hours.
    Required Interdisciplinary course—3 credit hours.
    Required Interdisciplinary course—3 credit hours.

MA/MFA Innovation Studies Course Descriptions

MA/MFA Major Courses
Required Courses — 18 semester credit hours


ADES 5510 — Process and Methodology for Innovation
— 3 credit hours. 

Students will explore and utilize a variety of processes and visual techniques that inform and guide ideation as a means to create a common language that will allow them to communicate effectively across disciplinary backgrounds. The knowledge they gain from these experiences will allow them to develop and actualize the kinds of visual solutions necessary for future programmatic and career-based success.

ADES 5520 — Design Research Methods — 3 credit hours. 

Students enrolled in this course will be immersed in learning experiences that challenge them to develop and then expand knowledge about how design research processes and methods can be utilized to effectively connect design theory with practice as a means to advance their ability to make sound critical judgements and formulate effective and appropriate strategies. 

ADES 5530 — Design Research Methods II — 3 credit hours. 
In this studio-based course, students will learn how to use interactive design tools, social media and methods of networking to create and facilitate design processes that allow select groups of people to contribute to the building of shared experiences and, hopefully, shared understandings.

ADES 5522 — Brand and Brand Experience — 3 credit hours.  
In this seminar-based course, the nature of brands and brand experiences will be analyzed through a variety of economic, social and cultural lenses. Students will be expected to comprehend and articulate, in writing and oral presentations, knowledge they gain regarding the essential nature of brands as they influence and are influenced by business and marketing trends, globalization, modern social psychology and cultural dynamics.  

ADES 5524 — Design and Its Social Ramifications — 3 credit hours. 
In this seminar-based course, the design process, its artifacts and their agency will be examined from a broad array of socio-cultural perspectives.   

ADES 5526 — Collaborative Design Studio — 3 credit hours.  
In this studio-based course collaborative, interdisciplinary teams will apply the processes and methodologies introduced in ADES 5510 and ADES 5520 to identify, reframe (when necessary) and develop problems suitable for further theoretical and applied exploration. Moreover, these problems will be ones typically considered to be outside the domain of contemporary design practice.

MA/MFA Required Interdisciplinary Courses
MFA Students must select 12 credit hours total from one of the following areas.
MA Students must select 9 credit hours from one of the following areas.
Anthropology
Behavior Analysis
Decisions Sciences
Library and Information Sciences
Marketing
Merchandising and Hospitality Management
Philosophy
Psychology
Radio, Television and Film
Sociology
Other interdisciplinary class can be added to this list of possibilities when appropriate.

MFA Minor Courses 
Required Courses — 12 hours Credit Hours

ADES 5532 — Design Pedagogy Analysis and Processes — 3 hours. 
The major emphasis of this graduate class will be placed upon helping each student formulate a rationale/philosophy about the role of design/designers in the 21st century and his or her role as a design educator, and analyzing/evaluating effective undergraduate teaching methodologies for communication design education.

ADES 5534 — Design Pedagogy — 3 hours. 
This seminar-base course examines the role of a design faculty member working within a collegial environment in the complete development of curricula for a new or revised program area.

ADES 5536 — University Citizenship and Tenure in Design — 3 hours. 
This seminar-based course will examine the role of a design faculty member in the larger university setting. Course of study will include: school/college structures, committee work—both in the college and at the university level, budgeting, advising, scheduling courses, expectations for a designer/faculty in a college and university environment, etc.

ADES 5538 — Guided Teaching Internship — 3 hours. 
In this course, each student will be assigned to a professor in an undergraduate course. The student is expected to participate in the undergraduate course through assignment writing, presentation, critique, grading, handout preparation, advising and observation.

MA/MFA Art History
AEAH 5842—History of Graphic Design—3 hours. 
This course provides economic, political, social and technological perspectives on the work that has been created and disseminated by designers of visual communications, particularly over the course of the last 125 years, in a manner that makes their endeavors relevant to the design world of today and to contemporary society. Students will gain an understanding of the major movements, styles and figures in the world of visual communication design that have emerged around the world since the latter portion of the nineteenth century. Significant emphasis will be places on how and why a variety of decision-making processes have informed and influenced the discipline in theory and practice during this span of time, and on the impact that its past developments are having and might have on current trends.
MFA Students must select and additional 9 hours (3 classes) of seminar 5000-level art history

MA/MFA Practicum (Problem In Lieu Of Thesis)
All candidates must take 6 hours of supervised problem in lieu of thesis:

ADES 5546 — Practicum in Collaborative Innovation Studies I—3 credit hours. 
In a two semester-long project, interdisciplinary teams will identify a single problem and solve various social, economic, cultural or market based issues that will ultimately manifest themselves in a visual expression of one form or another. Emphasis will be placed on conceptual problem solving, exploration of multiple hypotheses, and the development of innovative solutions.

ADES 5548 — Practicum in Collaborative Innovation Studies II—3 credit hours. 
Continuation and culmination of the problem developed in ADES 5590. Documentation and presentation of this project will be required.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

MISSION: MFA in Design with a concentration in Innovation Studies

The MFA program has been designed to teach graduate students who have accrued professional experience in communication design or a related discipline to “discover the power of ideas” by immersing them in learning situations wherein they actually have to invent methods that can potentially fuel the development of new processes, products and systems. What students learn during this experience will allow them to address the types of complex communications problems currently emerging in the world, and will prepare them to create or assume essential positions as leaders, collaborators, provocateurs, and empowered advocates for change within it. The active approach to learning that informs this curriculum emphasizes real-world problem identification and problem solving supported by empathy-building, select types of reasoning and iterative thinking.

MISSION: MA in Design with a Concentration in Innovation Studies

The Master of Arts in Design with a Concentration in Innovation Studies exists to immerse graduate students who have not studied or practiced design in a series of learning experiences that will help them build and apply knowledge regarding design theories, methodologies and practices as a means to identify and test solutions for real-world social, technological, environmental and economic problems. This 36-credit hour program of study is unique to UNT, to graduate education in the state of Texas, and in this part of the U.S. The students who enroll in it represent a very diverse array of academic fields, professions and life experiences. Students will be challenged to work across disciplinary boundaries as they engage in design processes guided by select UNT CVAD Department of Design faculty. Some course projects within this curriculum may be taught all or in part by faculty from outside the CVAD Department of Design where knowledge or research interests complement or catalyze design processes.