A Class Project That Engaged Students to Challenge a Canon of Graphic Design

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Students enrolled in the History of Graphic Design class at a state university in the mid-southern region of the United States in 2021 completed one semester-long project that first chronologically placed work from an existing canon, then recognized inherent problems with its construction. Next, this project became a gateway to advocacy, empowering students to challenge and correct the canon by identifying and explaining at least one designer from a population underrepresented in said canon. Counsel and clear directions from the professor within a multistep process guided objective academic research from scholarly sources. Feedback from students a year later provided further insight into how the project met learning goals. This project equipped students who desired to challenge the status quo after the cultural shifts witnessed in recent years with the rational means to do so. Rather than an empirical study, this article describes this successful project for other design educators to duplicate. One can apply this project to almost any art/design canon and the bias inherent in its subjective categorization.