Teaching & Student Work

Students create video demonstrations of unique mobile apps designed to engage community

Students design digital products for mobile application that add to or expand on Greenville’s sense of place through additional programming (or activity). Students choose a local partner to work with and define goals and frame project for conceptualization and development. Students must consider the needs of their partner as well as the end user of their application (often these are not the same people).

In this project, we discuss concepts of UI (user-interface design) and UX (user-experience design) and work with digital prototyping tools such as Adobe XD. Additionally, concepts and techniques for designing for digital environments such as wireframing, prototyping, and user-testing are introduced to support design development.

Work was completed by junior graphic design students at East Carolina University, Graphic Design, School of Art + Design.


Citizen Makers Workshop at the 20th Anniversary National Gathering of Imagining America

I presented and ran a new engagement workshop with conference attendees titled Citizen Makers in Community Design Intervention + Action at the Imagining America 20th Anniversary National Conference this fall in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 18-20, 2019.

This collaborative and interactive workshop introduces participants to a citizen-inclusive design process that applies an open, participatory model for community engagement in design intervention and action projects. The workshop is based on a framework from my research and practice, called the Blended Perspective (see Figure 1 below), that merges social impact assessment (SIA) guidelines from the social sciences with a human-centered design approach to improve methods for assessing social impact as a major outcome of design work. [1]

Figure 1. The Blended Perspective. Copyright, Normoyle, C., 2019.

[1] Read my most recent publication in the FOURTH issue of the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) DEC (Design Educators Community) open-access scholarly journal, Dialectic Volume 2, Issue 02 (V2, I2) called A Blended Perspective: Social Impact Assessment in Graphic Design. To view the entire publication, click here:

The Citizen Makers Workshop is a tool for teaching this method of community engagement in design intervention and action projects to a wide range of audience types in an interactive and experiential way. The workshop explains how designers can work with (not for) communities through all the phases of a project. This particular strategy emphasizes the community’s ability and responsibility to actively contribute to the implementation and monitoring phases of a design intervention and action projects. This central idea, inspired by the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement, enables citizens to become producers versus consumers of their communities. Designers serve as researchers, systems thinkers, and activists for change, while community members find ownership and authorship in the work they produce. 

The workshop can be used in the classroom to teach students or in the field to teach community and city members, professionals, and others. It is an active approach to learning that provides opportunities for participants to co-create hypothetical design intervention and action projects, based on unique issues that are relevant and unique to them.

At the conference, eight participants completed the workshop. They worked through a series of activities to learn about this method of community engagement in design intervention and action projects. An overview of the workshop activities is listed below.

  1. Identify an issue of concern based on experiences and/or interests relevant to you and your community.
  2. Identify characteristics of your communities.
  3. Brainstorm design intervention and action projects for your community.
  4. Identify community members for participation.
  5. Identify community member interests, skills and knowledge for integration.
  6. Integrate community participation into design intervention and action projects and refine solutions.

The workshop lasted about an hour and a half. Feedback from participants has been reviewed in order to refine the workshop further, and I plan to run this workshop with students at ECU this spring to test and develop the workshop curriculum further.

Some other highlights from the conference included the film screening of From Here by film maker, Christina Antonakos-Wallace (Check out as well for more details about her work). The film shared the stories of four protagonists from different parts of the world who struggle to find a sense of belonging and self in the places that they call home. We screened the film at the Imagining America conference, but the film will go on tour across the states in 2020. I am working with another colleague to setup a screening at ECU for next fall. We hope to invite Antonakos-Wallace and one of the protagonists to ECU to screen the film and run a workshop with the School of Art + Design students (perhaps other ECU organizations who may be interested as well). We plan to run additional programming next fall that will align with the concepts and concerns that the film brings to light.

Another highlight of the experience with Imagining America was the opportunity to represent ECU (and Eastern Carolina in general) with my colleagues while at the conference. Angela Wells, Associate Professor of Photography in the School of Art and Design and Mark Rasdorf, Senior Associate Director for the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center also presented work at the conference about their collaborative and on-going project, the True Colors Exhibition, a photography exhibit in celebration of LGBTQ History Month. The two have worked together for the past three years planning and implementing this show with students at ECU.


A Week of Engagement in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

As part of my research and engagement scholarship, I attended the 2018 Engagement Scholarship Consortium in Minneapolis, Minnesota this past semester. The conference supports a range of engagement research that focuses on university-community partnerships—partnerships that build and strengthen diverse communities for residents.

The types of projects represented at the conference cross many boundaries of specialties from conserving environmental and cultural landscapes, to fostering economic development and/or improving healthcare for citizens, to higher education reform and service design collaborations in the classroom. Academics and professionals from many disciplines, beyond design, including architecture, communications, social sciences, and humanities, participate in the conference.

The event was hosted by the University of Minnesota from Monday, Oct 1 — Wednesday, Oct 3.

This was also my first time visiting Minneapolis and Minnesota, so while I was not at the conference, I made an effort to explore the city. On Monday morning, before the new attendees “meet and greet,” I took a long walk from downtown to the uptown area. I walked along the Loring Greenway for a mile or so and then followed Hennepin Ave toward the Lake of the Isle and Bde Maka Ska Parks

I stopped for lunch at Lake & Irving Restaurant & Bar in the trendy uptown area to catch up on some work and eat lunch. I had my first Minnesota craft beer, an IPA, from the Surly Brewing Company.

I also spent a few hours of the trip visiting museums in the area. Tuesday evening, I visited the Walker Art Center, which was hosting the exhibition, Siah Armajani: Follow This Line, a collection of work by the Minneapolis-based artist Siah Armajani. The show spans six decades of work—”from Persian calligraphy to the manifesto, letter, and talisman; from poetry to mathematical equations and computer programming; from the Abstract Expressionist canvas to the vernacular architecture of rural America, Bauhaus design, and Russian Constructivism.”

On the last evening of the trip, I joined others at the Mill City Museum for the ESC conference reception. The museum, located on the Mississippi River front, tells the story of how Minneapolis became the flour milling capital of the world, a title it held from 1880 to 1930. A beautifully renovated historic building, the museum was the perfect location to celebrate a week of engagement. 

Teaching & Student Work

Design for Good: Students Work with Shelby County Health Department to Raise Awareness around the Opioid Crisis

Students at the Memphis College of Art designed campaigns for Shelby County Health Department to build awareness around the opioid addiction crisis in our community and help shift attitudes and behaviors around the stigmas of this addiction. Three campaigns were designed with all the campaigns communicating the core message that opioid addiction can happen to any of us.

Students who worked on this project included Bri Gilmer, Kelli Laderer, Sam Maxwell, Amber Stillwell,  Justin Wells, and Anthony Williams. The project was completed in the Design Lab course at MCA, which functions like a design agency where students work collaboratively to design solutions for clients. Contracts and fees are also negotiated and students are paid for their work.

The city awarded the students for exceptional work in design for social change and service to their community. The city plans to implement the campaigns across the state of Tennessee.

The first concept is called “all about the person” and focuses on the people affected by the opioid crisis. Opioid addition crosses many boundaries of age, race, personality-types, and economic status, and affects all types of people. The campaign highlights the range of individuals who may suffer from the addition.

Through the use of photography and hand-written testimonials, the concept confronts the fear of admitting to opioid addition by emphasizing that individuals often hide their disease from their family, friends, and peers.


Opioid Addiction Awareness Campaign Presentation_Page_05

The second concept is called “all about the visibility” and is a typographic solution for the campaign. The hands reach out for the addition (visually represented as pills and needles), but also suggest reaching out for help and support simultaneously.

Other taglines were created including:
“Not all Addiction is Seen, Do not be Invisible”
“Be Visible, Get Help.” and
“Fight the Problem, Not the People.”

opioid-addiction-awareness-campaign-presentation_page_12.jpgOpioid Addiction Awareness Campaign Presentation_Page_13

Opioid Addiction Awareness Campaign Presentation_Page_11The third concept is called “all about the feeling” is an illustrative approach to symbolize the mental state of someone, or someone you know, who is struggling with addiction. The silhouetted figure is encompassed in a prescription bottle to convey the feeling of being trapped and alone. The figure is made entirely of prescription opioids as it has become their new identity.; which unfortunately is the case for many of those affected.opioid-addiction-awareness-campaign-presentation_page_18.jpg



Opioid Addiction Awareness Campaign Presentation_Page_20



From Design as Artifact to Design as Process: Applying an Open Model to Community Engagement in Social Design

I recently attended Cumulus Hong Kong 2016 Conference, Open Design for E-very-thing and presented work about community engagement in the design process. The theme of the conference was openness and what that means in a field that has historically been conflicted between design that is inclusive versus exclusive. There were six tracks of exploration: education, empathy, ethnography, engagement, experiment, and environment. I presented in the engagement track, a design model that opens the design process to the community, expanding the role of the residents from participants to makers.

The model introduces the designer as strategist and systems thinker in the context of social design projects, while the community takes on the role of participant and maker. This central idea, inspired by the DIY (do-it-yourself) and open-source mentality of residents creates a workforce of critical makers, especially useful in locale endeavors with limited budgets. The model includes the roles and responsibilities for all phases of work—research, strategy, concept, artifact, and management—for both the designer and community member. Designers serve as strategists, systems thinkers, and activists for social change; community members serve as makers, which empowers them as they find ownership and authorship in the work they produce.

At the conference, I explained the model and how it worked through case studies that I led in Memphis, TN.

The paper will be published with the conference proceedings late spring.