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Graphic Design: new minor plus curriculum revisions create global opportunities

The Penn State Graphic Design program is pleased to announce curriculum updates that bolster such established program strengths as creative problem-solving and design thinking, while better preparing Bachelor of Design graduates for design careers in the modern, global marketplace. The revised curriculum leverages alliances with Penn State’s College of Information Science and Technology (IST) and the Student Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence, Italy, to provide our students with crucial skills in the digital/programming domain as well as key international learning experiences. The program revisions also create a Graphic Design minor for students outside the program who are interested in integrating design into their education.

Changes to the Bachelor of Design curriculum come as a result of a year-long review and revision process that maintains the quality and reputation of the program while ensuring its relevance for a 21st century student. The program assessed the existing undergraduate curriculum and outlined goals for improvement in its most recent strategic plan.

Signifying the beginning of a meaningful relationship between the College of Arts and Architecture and the College of Information Science and Technology, the B.Design curriculum adds IST 110: Information, People and Technology as a first year required course, and two IST courses – IST 250: Introduction to Web Design and Development and IST 256: Programming for the Web  – to the program’s sophomore year. These three classes will provide Graphic Design majors with fundamental skills in computer platforms, applications, and programming, and enable the technology classes already in the curriculum (GD 301: Experience Design Process + Methods and GD 303: Applied Experience Design) to further the students’ digital experience in this ever-expanding discipline.

The revised curriculum also adds the new course, GD 203: Advanced Typography, and eliminates the general education class PHOTO 100: Introduction to Photography, (assessment has shown that incoming students are already equipped with the visual language and photographic skills that had been presented in the course).

The new Graphic Design minor – available fall 2016 – allows for exciting collaborations with students from other programs such as IST, Communications, and Business with the physical, technological, aesthetic, and conceptual skills associated with a design discipline. The required minor courses include a foundational emphasis on visual communications, design methodologies, image making, typography, and the production of work in both physical and digital form. Additionally, students will benefit from an introduction to communication theory, contemporary issues in communication, audience, and context, and formal research methodology. A Minor Capstone Studio will ask students to integrate their body of work into a holistic design portfolio with a significant concluding project. The minor provides a valuable opportunity to build connections with students coming from a variety of academic backgrounds, increasing the diversity of thought in the program and its courses.

Finally, the new curricula allow for study abroad experience in both the major and minor courses of study. Students may receive design credits while studying at the Student Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence, Italy. This exposure and international engagement is enormously valuable to our students, who will enter an increasingly global marketplace.

Two Toyota Prius cars with vivid green graphic wraps