Natalie Tyree, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, Western Kentucky University
Each year, my institution hosts a logo competition for its “International Year of Program” (IYO). The program is intended to provide the campus and surrounding community with a rich, complex sense of place and interconnectedness through a year-long celebration of a single country. Instead of simply encouraging students to prepare logos, I implemented the concept of the IYO program as an experiential learning project into my Visual Thinking course as a semester long research project which allowed them to work individually and as teams to create an identity system for the International Year of Cuba. By incorporating applied research of the country and the programs logo needs and requirements, students were able to break down the conceptual process in a cohesive and reflective manner, resulting in a much higher quality work and greater understanding of Cuba’s culture. Students began by giving group presentations on various topics of Cuba from food and music to economics and politics and developed mood-boards based on their initial research. Throughout the semester, the students carried their ideas through several rounds of sketches and multiple group critiques, resulting in a final process book that explained how they interpreted the research and creative process. By incorporating these types of projects into the classroom, students are able to make real world connections and have the chance to investigate logos and identify systems on a greater platform by helping connect our campus to other cultures, thus connecting design to diversity in a tactile manner.