|Chasing Vertical: Diversity & Recognition in the field of Graphic Design.|
|MFA, Kent State University, 2017, College of Communication and Information / School of Visual Communication Design|
Despite the growing number of minority students entering college, those numbers are not reflected in design-related fields. A recent Georgetown study suggests that African Americans are far better represented in the social serving fields than in any other majors. Chasing Vertical- Diversity and Recognition in the field of Graphic Design utilizes design research methods to investigate what African American students prioritize when choosing a college major. The intention of this investigation is to gain a better understanding of why the design field has failed to attract African American students, and what practitioners and recruiters in the field can learn from the successes of other fields in developing diverse populations of learners. This research finds that the way social science students are inspired or motivated toward a career path can be best described in three distinct categories: enthusiastic, direct exposure, and indirect exposure. In each category, subjects prioritize the ability to create social change over a motivation to make large sums of money. Since African American students view the ability to impact their communities as a top priority when choosing a major, the field of design must consider how its tools and principles can be leveraged to effect change. Failing to do so will place design at a direct disadvantage as it attempts to attract African Americans. For this reason, it is recommended that designers use their strength to contextualize information for social issues in addition to commercial endeavors.
Committee: Sanda Katila, MFA (Advisor); Jessica Barness, MFA (Committee Member); Larrie King, MFA (Committee Member); Ken Visocky-O'Grady, MFA (Committee Member)
African Americans; Design
Keywords: Diversity, Recruitment, The Sunken Place, African American Students, Graphic Design, AIGA, Get Out, Where are all the black designers,