Stevenson University’s School of Design initiated a new course this fall semester. Currently called “Design Center,” the course provides students with the chance to collaborate with other majors and work as a student-run agency to gain experience working with on-campus and off-campus clients.
After a year of brainstorming and planning, the School of Design, led by Dean Amanda Hostalka, was finally ready to introduce the course to students this fall. When designing the program, members of the faculty met over the course of the year to consider how to best create a meaningful experience for School of Design students.
“Some of the research for the development of the course required the faculty to look at other peer institutions and garner insight from universities that have a similar type of initiative,” said Stephanie Verni, professor of business communication and lead professor of the course this semester.
The overall goal of the course was to offer students the opportunity to gain experience working with clients, focusing on integrated marketing communication. The course will also help students expand their portfolios and learn to collaborate with students outside of their major.
“Having students in business communication, graphic design (formerly visual communication design) and film and moving image working together on projects has enlightened students as they’ve learned how to collaborate on various projects, often having to learn new skills from another area,” said Verni.
Inna Alesina, assistant professor of art and visual communication design, co-teaches the course with Verni. In the spring, Alesina will be the lead teacher and Verni will be the co-teacher. Other professors from the School of Design will also be involved in the future.
While the course is currently titled Design Center, the students were tasked with a semester-long assignment of branding the center, producing potential names and identities for the “agency.”
At the start of the semester, the students brainstormed potential names for the agency. The students then limited the names to three final options. From there, the class was split up into three groups, and each group was assigned a name.
The three groups consist of student teams from business communication, graphic design, and film and moving image. The groups are required to create a logo, a brand identity and possible slogan, which they will then pitch to the entire School of Design faculty at the end of the semester, according to Verni.
“The most interesting part has been bringing the three disciplines together and seeing the students work together,” said Verni.
“As a business communication major, working with graphic design and film and moving image has taught me a lot about collaboration,” said junior Grace Clark, a current Design Center student.
The outside client that the students have been working with is Eastern Communication Association (ECA). Throughout the semester, the students have been working on materials for the ECA’s annual conference, to be held this spring in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The students have been working on invitations, buttons, gift bags, menus, logo designs, videos, brochures and pamphlets, as well as using social media to promote the event.
“Being the first group of students to experience this course has been a privilege. I feel like I am a part of something that could potentially be a major trademark of the School of Design,” said Clark.
The course is available for both spring and fall semesters. Currently, there are some open spaces for spring 2018 for business communication and film and moving image majors. Students interested in taking the course should contact the School of Design faculty.