Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty

Assistant Professors Christensen and Hussaini presented about integrating social justice into visual communication design curriculum at the 2023 AIGA DEC Symposium

Assistant Professors Christensen and Hussaini presented together at the AIGA DEC Lens 2023 Symposium in New York City, as part of the AIGA National Design Conference. The AIGA DEC hosted Lens as a one-day symposium featuring peer-reviewed papers, panels, posters, and other work from educators, graduate students, and industry professionals that address ideas and topics connected to the theme LENS. Christensen and Hussaini introduced their work integrating a social justice lens into curricular development for visual communication design courses, specifically in relation to multimodal storytelling for two courses: the experimental Visual Storytelling elective class Christensen has introduced, and Research and Writing in Design, the core major requirement course Hussaini has re-envisioned. The presentation shared best practices formulated from these two case studies for pedagogical approaches to create politically engaged, community-focused classroom learning communities. 

Banner of the AIGA DEC Lens Symposium 2023
Example of slide in the professors' presentation
Another example of slide in the professors' presentation

Assist. Prof. Sosa-Tzec discusses critical approaches to the visual essay in the AIGA DEC Symposium

The AIGA DEC Symposium Lens 2023 took place this October 12 in New York City, within the AIGA National Conference. Assistant Professor Omar Sosa-Tzec participated in the panel "Making Space for Graphic Designers as Visual Essayists." In this panel, Dr. Sosa-Tzec discussed the notion of the visual essay as a multimodal argument and outcome of research-through-design and the application of poetics, semiotics, rhetoric, and aesthetics as critical approaches to peer-review the visual essay in graphic design academia. Sosa-Tzec also discussed sketchnoting as a form of pre-writing and content for visual essays. Accompanying Dr. Sosa-Tzec were Patricia Childers (CUNY/CityTech/Pratt), Heather Corcoran (Washington University in St. Louis), and Joshua Unikel (University of Houston). All the professors were AIGA DEC Design + Writing Fellowship members in 2022. This panel and their work from the fellowship seek to legitimize the visual essay as a research product in graphic design academia and pluralize and diversify its voices. 

Slide listing poetics, semiotics, rhetoric, and aesthetics as critical approaches to the visual essay
Image showing Omar Sosa-Tzec's visual essay and sketchnotes and listing uses for the sketchnote in visual essay creation

Prof. Chu presents at Design History Society Annual Conference, Matosinhos, Portugal

Prof. Hsiao-Yun Chu presented her current research entitled "Women's Work: Design on Display at the Centennial Fair" at the 2023 Design History Society Annual Conference in Matosinhos, Portugal. Her work illuminates the contributions of women designers and organizers to the 1876 Centennial Fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania--the first world's fair in which women's work was shown in its own pavilion. 

Prof. Chu comments, "Design history is a small and rather unique field as distinct from art history or the history of science and technology in general. It's a rare treat to experience the current research of others in this field who are expanding the scope and methods of this discipline in real time."

Prof. Chu teaches Design and Society at Sichuan University UIP Summer Program

Prof. Hsiao-Yun Chu has taught a short course on Design and Society as part of Sichuan University's University Immersion Program, which brings together students with faculty from around the world, encouraging global awareness and intercultural communication. "I'm extremely grateful to Sichuan University, to Prof. Dr. Zhao Chengqing for his warm invitation as well as to Dr. Gao Ran and the rest of the faculty for welcoming me," says Prof. Chu. "Although I was invited to teach the students about design, I myself learned so much about the Chinese language and the rich cultural history of Chengdu during my stay." Sichuan University is one of China's most prestigious universities, serving about 50,000 students across many disciplines. Prof. Chu has been teaching at the Arts College of Sichuan University.

Assist. Professor Omar Sosa-Tzec Presenting on Delightful Screen Time Visualizations at NorDes 2023, the 10th Nordic Design Research Society Conference

Assistant Professor Sosa-Tzec will present an exploratory paper on delightful visualizations of screen time for smartphones at the 10th Nordic Design Research Society (Nordes) Conference, which will take place in Norrköping, Sweden. This paper focuses on how to help smartphone users to attain digital wellbeing–that is, a balanced relationship with technology–through unconventional, delightful screen time visualizations. This exploratory work applies Design Delight–Prof. Sosa-Tzec's experiential framework to design for a happy and flourishing life–and sketching to conceptualize such visualizations. Through this paper, Prof. Sosa-Tzec argues that delight (in relation to digital well-being products and experiences) plays an important role in helping people attain digital wellbeing. Moreover, he urges designers to recognize sketching as a valuable activity concerning research through design.

The paper is available in the digital proceedings of the Nordes 2023 conference, published in the Design Research Society Digital Library.  


Assistant Professor Christensen presenting on Extending the Visual Storytelling Narrative Arc through Augmented Reality at the Digitally Engaged Learning (DEL) 2023 Conference

Assistant Professor Christensen will be presenting her paper "Extending the Visual Storytelling Narrative Arc through Augmented Reality" at the Digitally Engaged Learning (DEL) 2023 Conference. For over fifteen years, DEL has been a place to share, explore, and evolve our digitally engaged teaching and learning in art and design higher education. The theme of the 2023 conference is "Realities and Futures."

September 21–22, 2023
Online from: University of the Arts London

Image designed by: Yixin Cai

Assistant Professor Christensen presenting on story mapping spatial narratives of San Francisco at the 18th annual UCDA Design Education Summit (Theme: Same/Difference)

Assistant Professor Christensen will be presenting her paper "Spatial Narratives of the City: Growing the Local Living Archive through Student Story Mapping" at the 18th annual UCDA Design Education Summit. The 18th annual UCDA Design Education Summit is a national summit for design educators, chairs, and students, and continues an ongoing community created specifically for graphic design educators with opportunities for professional participation and development.

The 2023 UCDA Design Education Summit: SAME/DIFFERENCE, will highlight research and pedagogical approaches that explore accessibility, disability justice, belonging, and inclusivity toward integrative systemic change.

May 22–23 
Bowling Green State University (BGSU)
Bowling Green, Ohio

Prof. Chu contributes to Noguchi and Greece

Noguchi and Greece, Greece and Noguchi

Prof. Hsiao-Yun Chu has contributed an chapter to Noguchi and Greece, Greece and Noguchi.  Designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi  (1904–88) visited Greece numerous times over the course of his career. This two-volume set explores the influence of Greek culture-- and Noguchi's engagement with world cultures more broadly-- on his work. This set is an extension of a research and exhibition project initiated by Objects of Common Interest with the Noguchi Museum in New York.

Assist. Profs. Christensen and Sosa-Tzec to introduce a design communication rubric at Surface, the 2022 AIGA Design Educators Community Conference

Ellen Christensen and Omar Sosa-Tzec, Assistant Professors of Visual Communication Design, have developed a rubric to evaluate the presentation and communication of design projects by undergraduate design students. The two professors will present this rubric at the Surface, the 2022 AIGA Design Educators Community Mini-Conference, which takes place as one of the events within the National AIGA Design Conference of this year.

Christensen and Sosa-Tzec developed this rubric by assessing work from students of the School of Design and using experiential knowledge, design pedagogy scholarship, and the communication rubric elaborated by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. They engaged in this project as part of the Core Competency and GE Assessment Program of the SFSU Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning division, intending to help students become more articulate in their project presentations and strategic regarding the use of writing, imagery, and even non-verbal communication or any possible mode of communication to stand out and be persuasive.

  • Christensen and Sosa-Tzec invite everyone in the School of Design to utilize this rubric.
Rubric to evaluate design communication in the classroom by Ellen Christensen and Omar Sosa-Tzec

    This rubric comprises six communication design dimensions

    • Design Situation - the student's ability to describe the problem to address through design
    • Design Process - the student's ability to describe the different phases and iterations that led to the design solution
    • Design Rationale - the student's ability to describe the effectiveness of the design outcome
    • Design Language and Vocabulary - the student's ability to describe discipline-specific concepts that informed the design process
    • Design Evidence - the student's ability to provide significant visual or multimodal content that shows design work and process
    • Design Writing - the student's ability to provide written content that explains design work and process
    • Design Competency and Knowledge - the student's ability to describe the learning and takeaways from carrying out the design process

    Each dimension is scored as follows:

    • Beginning - 1 point
    • Developing - 2 points
    • Competent - 3 points
    • Accomplished - 4 points
    Ellen Christensen and Omar Sosa-Tzec

    Assist. Prof. Sosa-Tzec discussed digital wellbeing design at semiotics conference

    The 46th Annual Conference of the Semiotic Society of America took place this October 12–16. Assistant Professor Omar Sosa-Tzec participated in this virtual conference with the paper "Digital Well-being Technology through a Social Semiotic Multimodal Lens: A Case Study,"  where he applied social semiotics and multimodality to analyze the presentation and design of Little Signals a set of digital well-being objects created by Google. 

    The interest in digital wellbeing–that is, attaining a balanced relationship with technology–has gained momentum as the detrimental effects of excessive screen time have become evident. Identifying resources designers apply to create effective and delightful digital well-being solutions is a central task in Dr. Sosa-Tzec's research project "Speculative Designs for Digital Well-being," which he initiated this Fall 2022 with the support of the Marcus Early Career Research Award. The paper presented at this semiotics conference results from this task and Sosa-Tzec's efforts to bring semiotics, rhetoric, and aesthetics together as critical and productive frameworks in design–communication design, industrial design, and user experience design. 


    The detrimental effects caused by uncontrolled technology usage and screen time have motivated designers in academia and industry to explore solutions that promote digital well-being. This paper draws on the social semiotic approach to multimodality to examine the semiotic resources applied in designing and presenting one case study concerning such solutions—Little Signals, six artifacts commissioned by Google. An analysis was performed on the project’s website’s content, paying careful attention to an introductory video and artifact gallery. Proximity, distance, focus, and analogy appear as distinctive video storytelling choices. These convey unobtrusiveness, invisibility, ephemerality, intimacy, control, and familiarity. The resources of size, shape, material, color, and motion applied to define the artifacts’ appearance, behavior, and data presentation also help reinforce it. Besides examining the relationship between these meaning potentials, resources, and digital well-being artifacts, this paper also discusses the apparent attempt to give smart-home devices a benign character.

    System network diagram of identified resources to design for digital wellbeing by Omar Sosa-Tzec (2022)