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Through observation and documenting their own work, students focus on projects of their own within an area of interest with the approval of the Academic Director. In this course, students will work with non-profit organizations (optional).

Project study is an upper division studio class about information design. While information permeates most graphic design, before this class it is not addressed as such. The class is divided into two sections, one involving lectures about the physical components of information design, followed by a time-limited exercise and the other a larger research project that lasts the entire quarter.

The jumping off point for the curriculum in this class lies with Edward Tufte, author of numerous books on information design including "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information", the course textbook. We discuss his principles of graphical integrity and analyze examples of sucessful and unsuccessful information design. A specific topic is then covered each week, starting with gestalt shapes and golden ratios and ending with design in context. Each lecture in reinforced through a one-hour design challenge, for example illustrating a typical week in the life of a student or designing wordless instructions.

The larger part of the class involves an independent study project. Students are asked to collect data either through research or experimentation, and to illustrate the results. The project both reinforces the importance of accurate data presentation and forces students to adhere to a timeline. Past project themes have included an analysis of Olympic host cities, a resource book for fishermen, an analysis of dog potty-training and a bound essay on shark behavior off the northern California coast. Through projects and exercises students become more aware of information in their environment and are able to more concretely discuss the function of it in design.

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