Connective Methodologies: Visual Communication Design and Sustainability in Higher Education

  • Denielle Emans
  • Kelly M. Murdoch-Kitt
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


By employing an expanded view of 21st-century communication design as a starting point for research, this paper aims to share with a multidisciplinary audience a brief overview of design research methodologies and intersections with sustainability. The researchers trace this evolution from the 1960 s to present, wherein higher education classrooms frequently integrate ecological and social dimensions into teaching and learning. The literature reveals how design research has developed distinct approaches to working for and with communities to fuel creative action. The researchers utilize grounded theory to review results from a series of initial interviews and survey data collected from a purposive sample of design professionals in the United States, along with an analysis of a range of texts in the intersecting realms of design, education, and sustainability. Professional respondents cite evolving trends in global business interactions, communications, and problem-solving as indicators that higher education should prepare design students to tackle complex sustainability challenges. This paper concludes with a discussion of the importance of integrating intercultural collaboration into higher education curricula to help students realize the intricacies involved in environmental health and cultural vitality.


Visual communication design Sustainability Intercultural collaboration Design research 



The researchers would like to thank their respective institutions for support of this research: Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar and Rochester Institute of Technology. The researchers also acknowledge the generosity of the professional respondents who shared their time and energy as part of this study. Your feedback and insights made this paper possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graphic Design DepartmentVirginia Commonwealth University in QatarAr-RayyanQatar
  2. 2.Centre for Communication and Social ChangeUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Penny W. Stamps School of Art & DesignUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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