Archive for the ‘teaching’Category


James Baldwin Global Imagination:

February 17 to 20, Thursday to Sunday
Contact for information

Check out their website for Conference schedule, location and other details:

Staged in the context of global economic insecurity, a planet gripped by the ravages of war and climate change, ever-increasing gaps in wealth, as well as rampant fundamentalism (East and West), “James Baldwin’s Global Imagination” is intended as an examination of globality not simply as a matter of demography but as an urgent call to re-consider the contemporary utility of Baldwin’s expansive injunction to William Faulkner (and, in fact, to us all), “[t]hat any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.” These proceedings are thus proposed as an opportunity to take seriously Baldwin’s consistent and insistent proposal that categories of difference represent an early misnaming, a dangerous and cowardly misrecognition of the moral imagination required to confront not only our mortality but also the brutal legacies of our collective histories.

Confirmed plenary speakers, respondents, and musicians:
M. Jacqui Alexander, University of Toronto
Awam Amkpa, New York University
Eshter Armah, journalist, playwright
Rich Blint, New York University
Marcellus Blount, Columbia University
Nicholas Boggs, Columbia University
Herb Boyd, Baldwin Biographer
Jennifer Brody, Duke University


01 2011

GLIDE10: Ron Eglash Bridges The Gap Between Vernacular and Indigenous Cultures

Ron Eglash computations

by Michele Y. Washington
Click to hear Ron Eglash’s presentation.
Our final keynote speaker brilliantly closed out GLIDE10 on his continuous investigation on Culture and Science in the sphere of indigenous and vernacular cultures existing within the United States ethnic communities such as Asian, Latin American and African American. Ron gives an in-depth explanation of global indigenous cultures to dispel numerous myths that exist of such groups as being backwards, primitive and illiterate.  This raises several fundamental issues of cultural sensitivity, and he provides specific examples from one project featured on his website on the process of mapping out Native American asymmetrical and symmetrical beading systems. For another project you can sample an example of African Architectural typology replicated through the application of African Fractals, an organic branching structure referencing nature.

This African Fractals project offers clear cut examples of his teaching methods applied in the cultural significance of the ancestral origins of cornrows for Black American students in high schools. His goal was to challenge the students to investigate the issues that surrounded the Black Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas and Caribbean, students were able to identify hygiene, resistance, retaining ones culture identity linking their own cornrow hairstyles to its origins. Other examples of paring the musicality of Hip-hop provide a broader sensibility of the connection as to why they wear this hairstyle. He’s developed a computation where he feeds in various iterations of how many plaits are in one braid. According to Ron, such concepts can be applied to other ethnic groups to gain a better understanding of the ancestral heritage. The Cultural expression opens the door to engage students to consider the various modalities of the design patterns replicated by cornrow hairstyles, which blurs the line between indigenous and vernacular design. He also looks at graffiti as a form of vernacular stereotyping. Ends his talk on Puerto Rican youth rooted to challenge the students through mathematical computation of Spanish music through rhythms and beats of the music. Summary of what limits racial intelligence, he states, while no one wants to talk about it, the thoughts loom in the back of many educators and peoples mind.

What part of collective memory fuels some of this iconic bead work, rug design, totems that are also evident in other global cultures such as Africans, Aboriginal, India, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries?

Defeating myths of cultural determinism
Using mathematics to bridge cultural gaps
Making cultural capital more available to its owners (individuals) Educational capital
Looking at new forms of hybridity for learning Peace and social justice efforts
Environmental sustainability

Making contributions to mathematics, and inspirations Challenges:

Not all modeling of culture involves translation of indigenous or vernacular knowledge. Ethnomath: provide more evidences of application of knowledge Interesting concept over cultural ownership of whose holds on to authentic cultural heritage for example, Shawnee Native Americans. Alternative methods for kids to go from consumers to producers, makers by apply the discovery as a learning method.

Take a look at Ron presentation at TED.COM

GLIDE10: Fabiola Berdiel + Cynthia Lawson Development through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Design.

GLIDE10: Fabiola Berdiel + Cynthia Lawson Development through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Design presenters brings us up-to-date on Parsons School of Design ongoing mission of incorporating social responsibility in to learning processes as applied to several design disciplines such as product, architecture and more.

One great aspect of Parsons School of Design  program is there hybridity of bringing students together from various disciplines to share information to build stronger coherent knowledge bases. The challenge is instructors function as facilitators, this mode of teaching forces the students to take a more interactive role to immerse themselves fully in there projects, and learn new platforms of studying beyond formal and informal methods of learning.  Students also have the opportunity to acquire primary research through traveling to developing/emerging  countries and explore various modes of practices while interacting with local people,  investigating new materials and methods to enhance new ways of design thinking. This provides the student with practical and hands-on experiences to build a diverse dialog rooted  in social and cultural constructs not available by just sitting in a classroom or surfing the internet.


I’m curious how the outcomes are measured by the students each semester? When the students interact with other cultures through travels, how does this figure into the collaborative process? How do these other ethnic cultures respond to the presences of your students?

I love the concept of students taking on the role of facilitators as a shared experience with this projects. How does this method evolve from semester to semester? Do the students view themselves as real agents of change? If so what are some of the outcomes?

What are the draws backs of the participatory process in this model of learning?

For more information click on:

FIT Exhibition Design Project: Food Opera

In my classroom I challenge my students to think beyond there own cultural beliefs and to expand the dialog of what globalization and culture means as applied to their ideation and design thinking. Here are a few examples of mindmapping/billboarding techniques used to jump start there projects. Below are several examples of students finished projects, billboarding presentations and team interactions.

Isabeal Maryland Crab presentation

Roni, Sarah and Sparky deep in thought

Dominka Polish Food expo, she incorporated poetic verses.

ART+DESIGN: Bruce Mau Teaches Kids To Be Better Global Citizens

excerpt: From Bruce Mau Design

Bruce Mau, of the design firm BMD, has been busy teaching kids how to be better design citizens at the Academy for Global Citizenship. This is a pilot school located in Chicago that helps students think of diverse methods to spread design to impact their local communities.

Mau has co-authored a book with OWP/P and VS that explores the link between how we learn and where we learn – the physical environment. Italian educator Loris Malaguzzi is called the Third Teacher (by adults and peers). The book examines the relationship between the physical environments in which kids learn, and the knowledge, insight, abilities and joys they gain.


04 2010

DESIGN: How Can Type Save Haiti?

As part of an ongoing series sponsored by NY chapter of the AIGA, Pablo Medina recently presented student work from his Experimental Type Design class at Parson School of Design where he has taught for more than ten years. The project titled, “How Can Type Help Haiti,” was presented at Museum of Art and Design in NYC. Medina’s students showed six projects to an audience of design and industry professionals, at the end of the presentation the audience voted for the best of the six groups. “A Small book for Heros, was voted the most effective project. Now, Medina’s  next step is to get this project in front of  UNICEF in hopes to get it produced. One big suggestion from the audience was for Pablo to identify other non-profit foundations to get the other five projects produced.

As reported on Black Design News:

Call to Action: Students respond Graphically to the Haiti Earthquake

by Steve Jones

We were all shocked and saddened to bear witness to the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti January 12, 2010. After seeing the aftermath, I knew, as a designer and instructor, I had to respond.

I always regretted not doing a project with my students in response to the U.S. invasion in Iraq. I knew after the Haiti quake, I couldn’t stand by on the sidelines—the event demanded a graphic response. Upon returning from my Winter Break, I assigned the students in my Typography class (San Francisco State University), the task of designing a response to illustrate the aftermath of the earthquake.

Check out for more on Black Design News: A news bureau, an online publication, digital library and ‘workspace’ hub for designers.

DESIGN EDUCATION: ipod project

This experimental project was from my Visual Process class at Fashion Institute of Technology. Students explored a set of learning processes combining imovie, garage band that utilized video techniques to create a visual narrative project designed with icons, symbols and visual images. They used ipods as a device to first record sound, then import it into garage band to create video solutions. The final projects were created as quicktime movies.

Featured above is the work of two students Nori Inoue and Brian Aquaria who worked as a team to create a project that documents the identity system of three different Olympic Games.


03 2010