A PLACE FOR DESIGN-CENTERED GRADUATE STUDY

A dynamic and flexible workspace

LEAD
Dec 18, 2012

Many of the core courses in the curriculums of both the MA and MFA programs in Design with Concentrations in Design Research are taught at the Design Research Center. The DRC is uniquely well-suited to fulfill its dual mission of functioning as:

  1. an urban design research lab, and
  2. as the classroom site dedicated to meeting the unique needs of graduate students studying in these curriculums. 
more
LEAD
Dec 18, 2012

Many of the core courses in the curriculums of both the MA and MFA programs in Design with Concentrations in Design Research are taught at the Design Research Center. The DRC is uniquely well-suited to fulfill its dual mission of functioning as:

  1. an urban design research lab, and
  2. as the classroom site dedicated to meeting the unique needs of graduate students studying in these curriculums.  

The physical space of the DRC is configured in an open floor plan. This allows the students and faculty working within its over 2,500 square feet of high-ceilinged workspace to flexibly arrange furniture, whiteboards, pin-up space, computing and projection equipment and lighting arrangements to support the progress of individual course projects and research endeavors. The location of the DRC in the heart of the fifth-largest metropolitan environment in the U.S. allows graduate students, faculty and their collaborators an operational hub that affords easy access to:

  • local businesses,
  • vendors and suppliers,
  • community groups,
  • NGOs,
  • public policy makers,
  • and a myriad of other resources that can only be found in an urban center.

It’s also located near many of Dallas’ design-based consultancies and related businesses, as well as the national and regional headquarters of several major private and public corporations, including Texas Instruments, Dean Foods, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), Belo Corp., Alliance Data, Kimberly-Clark, American Airlines, Nieman Marcus, CoMerica Bank and Atmos Energy, among others.

Failure Analysis Exercise from ADES 5530

Jul 18, 2014

UNT’s Discovery Park Research Campus hosted the “Places and Spaces: Mapping Science" exhibit during the summer and fall of 2011. Curated by information scientist Katy Borner from the University of Indiana, this traveling exhibition was comprised of 70 examples of different types of what Borner and her colleagues refer to as "maps of science," or "science maps." The students enrolled in the fall 2011 section of Professor Michael Gibson's ADES 5530 Design Research Methods course were challenged to utilize some of the critical, analytical skills they had acquired during their enrollment in it to assess the effectiveness of two of the pieces from this exhibition as visual data communication and contextualization systems. They were challenged to write about a piece that they determined to be "successful" according to the criteria listed below, as well a piece that they determined to be "unsuccessful" according to this same criteria. Each student was also required to publicly present their criticisms in a public forum in UNT’s Design Research Center. Select examples of individual students’ presentation materials are accessible below the listing of criteria.

more
Jul 18, 2014

UNT’s Discovery Park Research Campus hosted the “Places and Spaces: Mapping Science" exhibit during the summer and fall of 2011. Curated by information scientist Katy Borner from the University of Indiana, this traveling exhibition was comprised of 70 examples of different types of what Borner and her colleagues refer to as "maps of science," or "science maps." The students enrolled in the fall 2011 section of Professor Michael Gibson's ADES 5530 Design Research Methods course were challenged to utilize some of the critical, analytical skills they had acquired during their enrollment in it to assess the effectiveness of two of the pieces from this exhibition as visual data communication and contextualization systems. They were challenged to write about a piece that they determined to be "successful" according to the criteria listed below, as well a piece that they determined to be "unsuccessful" according to this same criteria. Each student was also required to publicly present their criticisms in a public forum in UNT’s Design Research Center. Select examples of individual students’ presentation materials are accessible below the listing of criteria.

Assigned criteria for evaluation of select pieces from "Place and Spaces: Mapping Science:"

  • Assess each piece from a connotative and denotative perspective
  • As these pieces each depict visualizations of data, assess how effectively they stimulate viewer attention and engagement (bear in mind that a piece that may garner attention and engagement from one persona may not garner it from another)
  • Assess each piece semiotically—the challenge for each re: satisfying this parameter will be to “get beyond description and your opinion” to arguments that are effectively bolstered by your ability to interpret the cultural signs/indicators that are manifest in each of them from semantic, syntactic and pragmatic perspectives
  • Assess each piece in terms of how effectively it allows its audience(s) to recognize patterns of particular types of occurrences within the data
  • Assess each piece in terms of how effectively it allows its audience(s) to infer particular types of relationships between the sets of data that are being presented
  • Assess each piece as an entity that must allow its audience(s) to engage in whatever cognitive processes are necessary for it/them to derive meaning from it that facilitates their ability to quantitatively compare data within the construct itself (ask questions that examine whether or not the graphic realization of forms distorted or obscured the understanding of essential statistical data, or caused it be misinterpreted... a good starting point for this line of inquiry is “can the audience[s] effectively discern and then utilize a hierarchy of information to cognitively ‘navigate their way through’ the array of data?”)
  • Assess each piece as a purely aesthetic entity, which will require you to critically examine whether or not the array of typographic, symbolic, and photographic forms (as well as the spaces that occur between them…)that comprise the entire construct were arranged and physically treated in a manner that contributed to its empirical “success or failure;” this last parameter affords you the opportunity to opine on the relative strength or weakness of the use of color, scale, texture, etc.—and the contrast or lack thereof between them—in each of the two pieces you choose to analyze

Dennis Cheatham Science Maps - Success, Failure, Slides

John Hicks - Hicks Science Maps Analysis

Tim Woodring - Woodring Science Maps Part 1

Tim Woodring - Woodring Science Maps Part 2

ADES 5530 - Design Research Methods

Jul 18, 2014

The learning experiences facilitated during the evolution of the course schedule of Design Research Methods have been designed to extend, expand and, perhaps most importantly, operationalize the theoretical knowledge that our graduate students will be concurrently developing during their enrollment inDesign Research Theory. These learning experiences have been sequentially structured to ensure that individuals and small teams learn to cultivate the skills sets and habits of mind necessary to effectively contextualize, formulate, conduct, analyze and then disseminate the results derived from particular engagements with short-term, design-led, research exercises.

more
Jul 18, 2014

The learning experiences facilitated during the evolution of the course schedule of Design Research Methods have been designed to extend, expand and, perhaps most importantly, operationalize the theoretical knowledge that our graduate students will be concurrently developing during their enrollment in Design Research Theory. These learning experiences have been sequentially structured to ensure that individuals and small teams learn to cultivate the skills sets and habits of mind necessary to effectively contextualize, formulate, conduct, analyze and then disseminate the results derived from particular engagements with short-term, design-led, research exercises.

As the course schedule progresses into its final five weeks, the students are challenged to utilize select aspects of what they will have learned in this course and during their concurrent enrollment in Design Research Theory to design and operate small-scale, exploratory design-led research projects. The results of a select array of these may be viewed as .pdf-formatted presentations by clicking on the items that appear below this paragraph.

ADES 5526 – Collaborative Design Studio Case Studies

Jul 18, 2014

Two student teams were challenged to identify a problem-based case instance and to theoretically frame, critically analyze and evolve a working hypothesis about their its visible scope, socio-cultural position and underlying ontological nature. The teams were then asked to develop guided solution exploration in-class engagements as a means to generate possible design interventions for or actions involving the previously identified case phenomenon. These experiential forms of inquiry augmented more traditional research methods and reasoning.

more
Jul 18, 2014

Two student teams were challenged to identify a problem-based case instance and to theoretically frame, critically analyze and evolve a working hypothesis about their its visible scope, socio-cultural position and underlying ontological nature. The teams were then asked to develop guided solution exploration in-class engagements as a means to generate possible design interventions for or actions involving the previously identified case phenomenon. These experiential forms of inquiry augmented more traditional research methods and reasoning.

These in-depth case studies allowed students to systematically and systemically explore a discreet component resident in a complex ecology of interdependencies. It also compelled them to delimit the scope of their research in order to arrive at meaningful, effective and achievable research methods, data gathering and analyses. Moreover, the interdisciplinary teams were encouraged to bring diverse perspectives to their respective discovery, framing, research and analysis processes.

  • Team Honey Badger — The City of Owasso Character Initiative
    MFA and MA students Dennis Cheatham, John Hicks, Michelle Keefer and Xuhao Yang examine the effects, if any, of an ongoing ‘character campaign’ being conducted by city officials in Owasso, Oklahoma.
  • Team Wolverine — Meet Toms. The Love Child of Love and Cause.
    MFA and MA students Rebeca Carranza, Holly Burroughs, Jeff Joiner and Tim Woodring examine the economic structure and social significance of Toms Shoes, a successful blend of BOGO charity and profitable business.

ADES 5522: Emlpoying Critical Thinking to Inform Critical Methods in Design

Jul 18, 2014

 

The documents that are stored here were all written by MA and MFA candidates during the 2011-2012 academic year who were enrolled in Professor Michael Gibson’s course “ADES 5522: Employing Critical Thinking to Inform Critical Methods in Design." 

The purpose of this grad-level seminar experience is to place students in learning situations wherein they learn to utilize a select array of critical thinking approaches and methods to evaluate various outcomes to design processes and designing. Once they’ve done this, they're challenged to articulate their viewpoints in well-structured, well-crafted, argumentative prose. This course also challenges students to utilize select modes of critical inquiry to examine and then write discursively about artifacts, systems of communication, human habitation, transportation infrastructure, etc., as well as processes for designing, manufacturing and engaging in practice.

 

more
Jul 18, 2014

The documents that are stored here were all written by MA and MFA candidates during the 2011-2012 academic year who were enrolled in Professor Michael Gibson’s course “ADES 5522: Employing Critical Thinking to Inform Critical Methods in Design." 

The purpose of this grad-level seminar experience is to place students in learning situations wherein they learn to utilize a select array of critical thinking approaches and methods to evaluate various outcomes to design processes and designing. Once they’ve done this, they're challenged to articulate their viewpoints in well-structured, well-crafted, argumentative prose. This course also challenges students to utilize select modes of critical inquiry to examine and then write discursively about artifacts, systems of communication, human habitation, transportation infrastructure, etc., as well as processes for designing, manufacturing and engaging in practice.

The fact that many graduate students enter our and other applied research programs around the world not knowing how to write particularly well—much less argumentatively—informs the structure of this course a great deal.

ADES 5520 – Design Theory, Meta–theoretical Phenomena Exploration

Jul 18, 2014

Students were asked to identify and systematically consider a phenomenon in the world — physical, social, cognitive, systemic, etc. — using a meta–theoretical taxonomic structure for design theorizing proposed by design researcher Terence Love.* This framework allowed the students to consider how to situate their selected phenomenon within a larger hierarchy of interdependencies and encouraged them to theorize more productively about the nature of complex problems and how they might be addressed through carefully considered, ontologically based design interventions.

*Love, T. (2000). “Philosophy of design: a meta-theoretical structure for design theory.” Design Studies, 21 (3), pp. 293-313.

more
Jul 18, 2014

Students were asked to identify and systematically consider a phenomenon in the world — physical, social, cognitive, systemic, etc. — using a meta–theoretical taxonomic structure for design theorizing proposed by design researcher Terence Love.* This framework allowed the students to consider how to situate their selected phenomenon within a larger hierarchy of interdependencies and encouraged them to theorize more productively about the nature of complex problems and how they might be addressed through carefully considered, ontologically based design interventions.

*Love, T. (2000). “Philosophy of design: a meta-theoretical structure for design theory.” Design Studies, 21 (3), pp. 293-313.

  • Dennis Cheatham — The Power of Science Fiction
    MFA student Dennis Cheatham explores science fiction’s relationship to real world innovation
  • Christina Donaldson — Productive Napping
    Interior Design student Christina Donaldson considers ways employers can create a healthier workplace
  • Nicole Hauch — Playground as Imagination
    MFA student Nicole Hauch explores how broadening the scope of play can stimulate the imagination
  • John Hicks — The Apple iPad as Personal Computer
    MFA student John Hicks examines the iPad through different theoretical lens including identity theory, commodity fetishism and cultural semiotics
  • Jeff Joiner — Cheeseburger as Perceived Hangover Remedy
    MFA student John Hicks explores the concept of comfort food as social surrogates
  • Michelle Keefer — Consumer Roles and Responsibilities Within the Market
    MA student Michelle Keefer examines the dichotomy between holistic market research and consumer power in the market
  • Tim Woodring — Bed as Private
    MFA student Tim Woodring reconsiders the traditional cultural position of beds hold in western society

MA and MFA in Design: Design Research

LEAD

Dec 18, 2012

The MA and MFA programs in Design with Concentrations in Design Research exist to immerse graduate students in a series of learning experiences that will help them build and apply knowledge regarding design theories, methodologies and practices as a means to identify and test solutions for real-world social, technological, environmental, economic and public policy problems.

more

LEAD

Dec 18, 2012

The MA and MFA programs in Design with Concentrations in Design Research exist to immerse graduate students in a series of learning experiences that will help them build and apply knowledge regarding design theories, methodologies and practices as a means to identify and test solutions for real-world social, technological, environmental, economic and public policy problems.

This program of study is unique to UNT, to graduate education in the state of Texas, and in this part of the U.S. The students who enroll in it represent a very diverse array of academic fields, professions and life experiences. Students will be challenged to work across disciplinary boundaries as they engage in design processes guided by select UNT CVAD Department of Design faculty. Some course projects within this curriculum may be taught all or in part by faculty from outside the CVAD Department of Design where knowledge or research interests complement or catalyze design processes.

To learn more about the MFA and MA programs in Design, please read the material presented in the sections of this webpage that follow this one.