Social Learning in Visual Communication Design

By Sophia Rosochacki and Elmarie Costandius.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social learning was incorporated into the Visual Communication Design curriculum in a project called Citizenship. The purpose of the project was to address social issues that stem from the colonial and apartheid past in South Africa. Experience cannot be separated from our learning; what happened in the past still has an effect on many facets of the social psyche, like self-esteem, for instance. Our collective history therefore affects individual learning. Emotions and learning are closely related. In the project mental and bodily learning were addressed by means of theoretical discussions, community interactions and the utilisation of design projects as a medium to work through sensitive issues. Race-related issues, such as stereotyping, power relations and blackness/whiteness, were discussed, because those still are important issues in everyday social interactions. After the community interaction students wrote self-reflections about their experiences in the community and the about discussions they had had with community members.
The action-orientated case study methodology was used to investigate the Citizenship project with the aim of assessing the project and bringing about further improvements in the curriculum. Data were collected through the students’ written reflections, in-depth interviews and class and community observations, as well as reflections by the lecturer/researcher on her role. The action-orientated case study approach encourages the realisation of the researcher’s subjectivist point of view in opposition to a more objectivist stance. The data were evaluated with the understanding that it was potentially biased, prejudiced and ambiguous.

Keywords: Citizenship, Community Interaction, South Africa, Visual Communication Design, Case Study

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp.165-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 724.308KB).

Sophia Rosochacki

Part-time lecturer, Visual Arts Department, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa

I obtained a BA in Graphic Design at Stellenbosch University, with English and Philosophy as extra majors. During my undergraduate years I participated in various educational programmes, memorably the teaching and course development of an Art and Design bridging course in the township of Khayelitsha. I obtained an Honours degree in Political Philosophy and Social Theory from the University of Cape Town. I continued teaching art theory and drawing in the townships of Nyanga and Philippi for an educational NGO, as well as tutoring at Politics at UCT. For the past year and a half I have acted as co-facilitator on a service learning module at Stellenbosch University (where I teach drawing), aimed at educating for multi-cultural citizenship. Last year I completed a course in Service Learning and Community Interaction, which greatly enhanced my understanding of the field. I am currently pursuing a Masters degree in Global Studies at UCT, and plan to complete half of the programme in New Delhi. I have a strong interest in the promotion of democratic values of tolerance and equality, and an enduring conviction that education remains a primary source of strengthening volatile social relations (on both a local and global level).

Elmarie Costandius

Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

I currently teach Visual Communication Design at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. I studied Information Design at Pretoria University and continued my studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. My interests are in multicultural education. I am currently busy with a PhD in Curriculum Studies focusing on aspects such as ethnic stereotyping, power relations and gender in the context of post-colonial and post-apartheid South Africa.


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