Neeta Verma

Neat Verma, University of Notre Dame

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SEGD C+P Journal Neeta Verma
An Eight-Step Pedagogy for Teaching Social Design

Neeta Verma is Associate Professor in Visual Communication Design at the University of Notre Dame. A graphic designer, story teller and a social advocate by profession, she has over 25 years of professional experience working exclusively for not-for-profits, museums and cultural institutions in New York, Albuquerque and India. As a graphic designer, she describes her role as a catalyst within a societal context, a solution finder, and an experience creator. She believes that as designers we have a responsibility toward a practice that is not just determined by “need” but more importantly by “relevance”. Her clients include Whitney Museum, American Red Cross and Wildlife Conservation Society.

Her teaching focuses on Social Design, Visualization of Data, and Fundamentals of Design and the aspects she promotes within those courses are critical thinking and innovation as she views the graphic design not only as creative problem solving both also as service and collaboration.

Proposal summary: An Eight-Step Pedagogy for teaching Social Design

The paper outlines a pedagogy for introducing students to the design process specifically in the area of Social Design. It helps students understand their role, define their engagement and project outcomes during various stages of the design problem. It is within this context that the paper develops the relationship between making and thinking–two deeply integral parts of a design process. It also demonstrates how this unique pedagogy helps students develop an understanding of civic engagement and contrasts it with the idea of design as service.

In a world that is evolving rapidly and becoming more global, economies are traversing many boundaries, distances are shrinking, cultures are converging and as a result many socio economic challenges are becoming a shared predicament that we as humans face today in a ceaseless effort to humanize the dehumanized. How then does the role of the designer get impacted by these paradigmatic shifts? From working traditionally for the business model of satiating marketing needs and solving communication demands (service), the designers’ role has expanded from one of being purely a creative force ‘maker’ to one of additionally serving as a ‘thinker’, facilitator, catalyst or a stakeholder (engagement, collaboration) in the newly defined social ecology where social transformation is driven by this eight step design process: the emphasis shifts from prescription to collaboration.

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