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International Seminar Series: “Designing Cross-Cultural Awareness Through Typography: Understanding Heritage and Cultural Identity of China”

Wednesday, November 20th
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Event Description

Graphic Design is a service-oriented profession where designers have a greater responsibility to be culturally aware, and understand diversity, inclusion, and social constructs to create designs that are authentic and relevant to the multicultural community we serve. It is imperative that design education adopts new methodologies to address cross-cultural learning and understand minority identities in the US. The design sequence has established a 3+1 program with Shanghai Normal University Tianhua College of Art and Design, and selected students will arrive to Illinois State next summer. How can we prepare our students to embrace Chinese students, their accent, language and cultural norms? How do we address stereotyping and marginalization of both American and Chinese cultures? The presentation will describe teaching methodologies adopted in the Advanced Typography course at Shanghai Normal University and the Special Topics in Graphic Design course at Illinois State University. Both courses included Designing Authenticity: Shanghai–Normal, a typography-based project which enabled students to become aware of the heritage and cultural identity of China while exploring typographic designs that are authentic. These works are featured at the Office of International Studies and Programs.

Archana Shekara is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Illinois State University. She is a multidisciplinary socio-cultural designer, and design researcher with twenty-three years of professional experience designing for diverse industry clients. She is the Creative Director of Design Streak, a pre-professional design studio at Illinois State providing creative services to businesses, and non-for-profit organizations in the Mid-West. She believes that teaching is the highest form of giving and uses design as a tool to create cross-cultural understanding, acceptance and respect. Her research focuses on heritage, diversity and multiculturalism in the classroom, intersectionality, transnational identity, service learning, social justice and community engagement. Archana received an MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BFA in Painting from the State University of New York in New Paltz.

Series Overview: The International Seminar Series offers the Illinois State campus and Bloomington-Normal communities weekly opportunities to learn about a wide range of international topics. Guest speakers are usually experts in their fields across a range of disciplines who cover a wide array of cultural, historical, political and social topics.

Series events have become one of the most popular internationally focused events on campus and continue to draw ever-growing crowds of students, faculty and community members. Audience members are given time at each event to raise questions to enable a two-way participation and learning.

International Seminar Series events are free and open to the public and occur every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center. The Fall 2019 series will focus on understanding contemporary China.

If you will need special accommodations, please contact the event organizer.


Office of International Studies and Programs
(309) 438-5276


Bone Student Center
Old Main Room