Graphic design students brand Dwelling Place advocacy program

June 11, 2024 (Volume 47, Number 19)
Article by Michele Coffill

group of students, professor and staff standing in front of materials that brand AHAA, an affordable housing advocacy program. campaign materials in red and blue, posters and one student on left is holding a tote bag

Students in a graphic design course stand in front of the products they created for a Dwelling Place advocacy program. Lindsey Peterson, assistant professor of graphic design and user experience, is pictured second from right. The Dwelling Place's Latrisha Sosebee is at far left and Jenn Schaub is at far right.

Students in a graphic design course spent the winter semester working closely with a nonprofit organization to develop materials and a website to bring awareness to an issue that may impact them soon, if it hasn't already: affordable housing.

Lindsey Peterson, assistant professor of graphic design and user experience, connected her students with the Dwelling Place to promote the organization's Affordable Housing Advocacy and Action (AHAA) program. Over the semester, students created campaign materials, website and designs to brand AHAA. The conduit for the connection was Travus Burton, director for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. Burton was a member of the first AHAA cohort in 2022.

Peterson said the course, ART 318: Graphic Design Forum, was recently added to the curriculum, it was offered for the first time in the winter semester. Future courses will study other pressing societal issues, she said. "We want students to understand how graphic design is used to address systemic issues, this goes beyond branding and delves heavily into education and research," Peterson said.

Students spent the first half of the semester learning about the Dwelling Place and AHAA through tours and presentations by Latrisha Sosebee and Jenn Schaub, who work with the community building and engagement team. Both Sosebee and Schaub are Grand Valley graduates.

"Before starting any design, a team needs to communicate and learn together. The students saw the value of this over the length of the course and it helped them make intentional design decisions, while learning to value collaboration," Peterson said.

Sosebee said their team was grateful for the opportunity to interact with students. 

"Housing and the current housing crisis is an issue that affects everyone. For students, this is something that they will inherently move into as they leave college — that is, if they aren't already grappling with this issue," Sosebee said. "Rarely are there opportunities to bring students or the 18-24 demographic into this conversation, so we were excited to provide education and bring their voice into the conversation."

The results of the students' work is on display at the Dwelling Place. Sosebee said the end result was more than her team imagined, adding community members involved in AHAA requested T-shirts and totes with the new AHAA branding.

"We are working on a new website and I'm looking forward to incorporating the ideas they came up with and unveiling the new brand identity for the website roll out in the coming months," Sosebee said.

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This article was last edited on June 11, 2024 at 12:21 p.m.

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