May 24, 2022
From August 2021 to May 2022, I served as the national chairperson for the 2022 UCDA Design Education Summit: Agency. This national conference brought together more than 100 design educators, chairs, and students from universities across the country to the Department of Art & Design at East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee, for a two-day conference, May 23–24, 2022. The 17th annual national summit supported an ongoing UCDA community created specifically for graphic design educators with opportunities for professional participation and development. I was supported in planning and execution by conference co-chair, Jenn Stucker, Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Bowling Green State University.
The conference theme, Agency, asked participants to consider the following: As we face all possible futures, design educators are expanding the pedagogical methods, institutional norms, and cultural roles of design education. Today’s design educators are interpreting, developing, and activating responses within their design courses, research and practice. Design educators are asking how learners will bring their lived experiences, positionality, and plurality into the classroom. They are asking how learners will define equity in historical, cultural, and societal narratives—redefining a professional discourse. They are asking how learners develop an awareness of their material choices and environmental impact. They are asking how learners will act independently, make individual choices and activate their personal agency to effect change in their life and practice.
This role afforded two important results. First, as chairperson, I was afforded the opportunity to define the conference theme: Agency. This theme is my research perspective and provided me the opportunity to gather published research from contemporary scholars. This also raised the visibility of this topic and reinforced the vitality of my own scholarship. Next, the event also created a cross-disciplinary teaching opportunity. The conference branding and resulting design materials were crafted by students in ETSU’s Graphic Design Workshop class. During this class, I represented the conference as a client for graphic design students. These students completed all necessary event materials and presented their design results as part of opening remarks to conference participants, displaying professionalism.