How can students at a federally-designated Hispanic-serving institution understand and express culture and diversity through art and design? In order to address this inquiry and to exemplify a method that introduces students to critical thinking in the context of design, I am presenting a case study based on the primary results of a project implemented at an introductory graphic design class, which is part of a multidisciplinary arts program. In this project, students learn basics of design research and auto-ethnography in a studio setting, in order to explore heritage and culture, their context of living, family history, and personal connections with their past, present, and future. Results from this discovery stage inform brainstorming, sketching, design, and production of a book that contains multiple visual explorations on “Heritage.” Some of the most memorable and productive conversations and interactions between students took place not only during the development of the project, but at the final project presentation, exposing their capacity to develop greater tolerance and a more empathic view of the other, to be open to reanalyze their context and personal interactions, to better evaluate the design abilities of their peers as they respond to their own individual approach to the topic, and to develop a better and safer sense of place in the classroom.
Hernández, Maria Gabriela. Look Around You, Look Inside You: Exploring Heritage in the Design Classroom. Re:Research, University of Cincinnati, 2017, p. 1606–1613, doi:10.7945/c24h5p.