Art 416: Social Impact Design

Syllabus   Projects   Class Schedule



M/W 6-9 pm (Hybrid)

Assistant Professor Kevin O’Neill

Office Hrs.: Email me to set up appt.

Program Goals

The Graphic Design program incorporates design history, the study of basic visual elements, conceptual development, research, studio technique, and strategies for problem solving. Class critiques and discussions are emphasized. Students will explore typography, print, production, packaging, advertising, corporate ID, motion graphics and interactive design. The goal is to provide each student with the environment and support in which to develop a professional visual portfolio.

Course Description

This class is an advanced study of graphic design through comprehensive projects with an emphasis on independent research, conceptualization, along with developing skills of authorship and entrepreneurship. Many projects will be presented with specific parameters and deadlines to challenge conceptualization and aesthetic development.

Course Goals

  1. Exploration of different approaches, structures, processes to conceive and create visual ideas and projects.
  2. Further the development of personal, rational, independent and team design methods.
  3. Examination of the roles of theory, philosophy and scholarship in graphic design to provide insight to the decision making process in graphic design.
  4. More skillful coordination of the working process of graphic design including defining and developing personal ideas.
  5. Greater understanding of authenticity and substance in personal work
  6. Development of authorship and entrepreneurship through class projects.


  • To sharpen students’ ability to think critically
  • To sharpen students’ ability to think problem solve complex tasks
  • To introduce students to advertising and marketing strategies
  • To help develop students’ research and writing skills
  • To work as a team to produce and complete a project

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, you will:

  • Be able to develop advertising strategies
  • Understand how to write and develop a client brief
  • Be able to assign tasks and work in teams to complete a project
  • Better understand the production processes for print and digital delivery
  • Become stronger in original concept development and problem solving
  • Develop a stronger personal style


Evaluation of your progress will be determined by your research and planning, addressing all requirements of a project, meeting deadlines, creative problem solving, working independently, participating in class critiques, attendance and professionalism.

Required text and materials:

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, A Guide to Creating Great Ads-5th Edition (2016) Luke Sullivan

($10-$15 Amazon, bookstore,, Kindle)


  1. Flash drive or external portable hard drive to back up work
  2. Camera (we have 2 digital cameras for use during class).
  3. Sketchbook/notebook
  4. pens, markers, Xacto knife, ruler etc.
  5. Mat board and spray mount

Course Requirements

1. Attendance

Class is where faculty and students gather together in one place with a common purpose and common facilities.  The studio classroom is an environment in which you learn from faculty, peers and self-reflection. It is mandatory that you participate in both the stress and stimulus of a group with shared aims. In addition, most material is relayed through presentation and discussions that cannot be repeated. Therefore regular, punctual attendance and diligent work habits while in class are required. Tardiness in excess of 15 minutes will be considered an absence. Your final grade for the course will be lowered one letter grade for four unexcused absences and ½ letter grade for each additional absence. Please arrive punctually, work the entire duration of class and meet all critiques and deadlines.

Course schedules and finals schedules are published prior to the beginning of the semester. There should be no other place you need to be during class time and critiques.

Exemptions for absences will be made only for a documented explanation from a doctor, nurse, counselor, or a similar person of authority.  If a student misses several classes because of illness, a death in the family, or other serious reasons, the student must take the responsibility to inform the Department of Visual Arts.

2. Assignment Summary

Assignment 1: Griffin Pond window adoption program

Assignment 2: Billboards

Assignment 3: Get Out the Vote posters

Assignment 4: Nonprofit Messaging project

Assignment 5: Commemorative postage stamp

Assignment 6: Collection Book

Reading assignments and quizzes will be given in addition to projects.

3. Grading Criteria Breakdown

A:  The objectives of the assignment are not only mastered but also treated in an original way. The completed assignment achieves an unexpected but effective approach to the subject that is appropriate, thoughtful and reveals aspects that are usually unnoticed or not discussed—the special nuances, subtitles, sensitivities, insights, knowledge and perseverance that makes a design outstanding.  The completed design must demonstrate powerful, original thinking and thoroughness.  High motivation is evident, performance criteria is consistently exceeded on every aspect of the project.

B:  The completed assignment shows an understanding of the assignments objectives in a strong, logical manner.  The design clearly demonstrates above average thought, understanding and originality.  Technical problems are very few and are minor in nature and was turned in on time.  While above average and demonstrating good design sensitivity, the design still lacks qualities of excellence.

C:  Objectives of the assignment are understood and the project may or may not have been completed on time.  The work is competent but not highly original yet fulfills the requirements of the problem description.  The project may also contain technical problems that demonstrate a lack of skill/attention.  The work may lack strong visual interest, thoughtful and imaginative resolution.

D:  The design project did not address the objectives of the assignment.  Inappropriate or irrelevant concepts are present.  Clarity and understanding of the problem description along with assignment objectives are not demonstrated and/ or based on faulty logic.  The design fails to come to any resolution.  Technical problems may or may not be abundant. The design may have been turned in late.

F:  Lack of effort on the assignment or failure to complete the project; failing work exhibits a disregard for; or a complete lack of understanding for the assignments objectives, problem descriptions and instructions.

Each project will be evaluated by the following criteria:

6 Projects + Class Participation

Your grade for the class will be determined by combining your grades for the projects with a grade for class participation, which will be worth the same as two projects. Class participation includes showing up on time for classes, participating in critiques and class discussions, working while in class, showing an understanding of the material, etc. All grades will be averaged for your final grade.

Individual projects will each be worth 40 points, which will be divided by 10, to translate into a letter grade. For example, if you earn 40 points for a project, divide it by 10 to get 4.0, or an A. 30 points would equal 3.0, or a B. Points are earned according to the following criteria:

  • 10 pts. Creativity – The project should be solved in a fresh, unique and engaging manner.
  • 10 pts. Aesthetics – The drawing should be well done, exhibiting a level of skill with the media. The composition, colors, images and type should be visually compelling, displaying an appropriate balance of harmony and variety.
  • 10 pts. Specifications – The project should solve the problem that was presented. In illustration, the illustrator is solving a specific visual problem for a client, delivering a message to a targeted audience, not just making a pretty picture. The solution should meet the technical requirements (size, color, file format, etc.) in the project brief.
  • 10 pts. Presentation – Roughs of ideas should be thoroughly explored with sketches turned in on time. You should be able to explain and discuss your project proposal. Your project should progress and evolve on schedule. Final projects should be turned in complete and on time. They should be clean, free of typos, mounted cleanly, and presented professionally.



4. Final Grades

Grades will be adjusted according to poor attendance or missing deadlines. The instructor retains the right to make any changes or additions to this syllabus and the projects, either orally or in written form.  If a student has any questions or concerns relating to this syllabus or any changes, he or she should contact the instructor as soon as possible.

5. Meeting Deadlines and Late Work

Students must demonstrate a high level of motivation, the ability to meet deadlines and timely completion of projects.  This reflects on your own professionalism and is a requirement of the course that will affect your overall grade.  For each class day a project is late, the grade will be lowered. If you miss a critique because of an unexcused absence, your project will be lowered 1 grade.

Loss of data is not an acceptable excuse for incomplete or missing work. You are responsible for routinely backing up all work, data.  Printing problems abound, print work 24 hours before due.

6. Participation Requirements

You are required to spend time outside of class working on class assignments.  It is also a requirement that students spend time outside of class looking at and reading Graphic Design and Visual Art books, journals and magazines in the library. You will have assigned readings. The time spent looking and reading about Graphic Design will be evident in the quality and sophistication of your design as well as in the level of knowledge and skill exhibited on projects.

*While working outside of class is a requirement, working exclusively outside of class does not fulfill the requirement of attendance (explained in attendance) and does not make up for class absences.

  1. Research the Problem Description.

Learn as much as possible about the subject you are designing for. Research thoroughly.

Use the dictionary; keywords can help define the objective.

Use your journal/sketchbook to record ideas and collect imagery.

Good design strategies are developed through thorough investigations, experimentation, and a natural curiosity by the designer


  1. Attendance to University, Art Department activities and events in major area. Students are expected to attend lectures, meetings, exhibits and events both on and off campus that pertain to their major area of study. Students are expected to make the necessary arrangements in order to attend these events.
  2. Class Critiques

Through out the semester students are required to present their work for both preliminary/in progress critiques and final critiques.  During these critiques, students are required to meet all deadlines and present their work clearly using a professional vocabulary as well as actively participating in discussions. If you miss a critique, your project grade will be lowered.

7.  Plagiarism in Graphic Design and Original Images

  • Each student in this class is expected to follow Marywood’s academic honesty policy (please see below).  As a student in this class, you are expected to follow the policy’s guidelines and report any and all known cases of academic dishonesty.
  • Students are encouraged to further develop their photographic skills by incorporating their own photography or illustration in their work.  Digital and single use cameras are viable means to incorporate original photography and still meet deadlines.
  • Rational: Students must be creators in making imagery not finders of imagery, therefore no Google images unless used for a reference.  Students must have a high degree of ownership over the image. If an image is questionable, a Google image search will be done to verify ownership
  • Any images, ideas or written words taken from others, but be credited.
  • Clip art and stock photography is instant art that is already designed and circumvents the creative process.  It is the designer’s stand-by; it is a goal of this course to gain experience and become more skillful through the experimentation and exploration of image use, not a reliance on stand-bys. Where stock photography is acceptable is if you need generic images to build illustrations or have no way of accessing a specific image.
  • Imagery used without permission or claimed as your own and is found not to be your work will result in an F for your project. Repeated offenses will be addressed under the Academic Policy listed below.

Inclement weather

There will be no project extensions due to class cancellations because of inclement weather.  All deadlines and critiques will remain when originally scheduled.  If classes are cancelled on a critique day, the critique will be conducted the following class.

Cell phones, texting, email and social networking are not to be accessed during class. Use your breaks to text or make calls.

Marywood Class Policy

The classroom is a formal environment dedicated to learning and students are expected to behave in a courteous and respectful manner.  Therefore, faculty have the right to ask disruptive students to leave the classroom if the learning environment is being negatively impacted.

Core Competencies

  1. demonstrate professional competence and leadership skills that have the potential for meeting human needs and are directed to the well-being of future generations.)
  2. apply the wisdom of the humanities to the examination and evaluation of contemporary issues.
  3. read, write and speak effectively and achieve computer literacy.
  4. think critically and creatively in both the theoretical and practical aspects of life.
  5. appreciate the value and dignity they share with others as human beings.
  6. comprehend the dynamic natural and historical processes that have shaped the world.

Teaching Strategies

Each class will contain a lecture pertaining to the assignment which may include historical references, contemporary design trends, software instruction, discussions, documentaries, quizzes, problem-solving strategies, and/or critiques, followed by a lab with individual hands-on instruction.

Additional reference material, tutorials and sources are on our class website:

Academic Honesty

The Marywood University community functions best when its members treat one another with honesty, fairness, and trust.  The entire community, students and faculty alike, recognize the necessity and accept the responsibility for academic honesty.  Students must realize that deception for individual gain is an offense against the entire community.  Cheating and plagiarism are behaviors destructive of the learning process and of the ethical standards expected of all students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Students have a responsibility to know and adhere to the University’s Academic Honesty policy.  Violations of this academic honesty statement or the intent of this statement carry consequences.  University procedures for investigation of alleged violations of this policy ensure that students are protected from arbitrary or capricious disciplinary action.  Initial sanctions for violations of academic honesty ordinarily are determined by the course instructor.  The faculty member will employ a range of sanctions, from a minimum of a failing grade for the specific coursework in which the infraction occurred to a maximum of a failing grade for the entire course.   If necessary, the chairperson and/or academic dean may become involved in investigating the allegation of academic dishonesty and the determination of sanctions.  The faculty member will file a report with the office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, with copy to the faculty member’s department chairperson and the student’s academic dean.  An academic dean may also choose at any time to inform the Dean of Students of charges of academic dishonesty for adjudication in the University conduct system. Likewise, a member of the University community may submit a conduct report against a student, group of students, or student organization for alleged violations of the Academic Honesty policy to the Dean of Students, who will inform the appropriate academic dean for possible adjudication. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will maintain a register of established cases of academic dishonesty in order to identify an individual student’s pattern of violation.  Two established cases of academic dishonesty will result in suspension from the University; three established cases will result in dismissal.

In a case in which the student is involved with violations of both academic and discipline policies from the same incident, the Dean of Students and the cognizant Academic Dean of the college or school in which the student is enrolled will confer regarding sanctions to assess their academic impact and to assure that a consistent message is communicated to the student.


Cheating is defined as, but not limited to, the following:

  • having unauthorized material and/or electronic devices during an examination without the permission of the instructor;
  • copying from another student or permitting copying by another student in a testing situation;
  • communicating exam questions to another student;
  • completing an assignment for another student, or submitting an assignment done by another student, e.g., exam, paper, laboratory or computer report;
  • collaborating with another student in the production of a paper or report designated as an individual assignment;
  • submitting work purchased from a commercial paper writing service;
  • submitting out-of-class work for an in-class assignment;
  • changing grades or falsifying records;
  • stealing or attempting to steal exams or answer keys, or retaining exams without authorization;
  • submitting an identical assignment to two different classes without the permission of the instructors;
  • falsifying an account of data collection unless instructed to do so by the course instructor;
  • creating the impression, through improper referencing, that the student has read material that was not read;
  • artificially contriving material or data and submitting them as fact;
  • failing to contribute fairly to group work while seeking to share in the credit;
  • collaborating on assignments that were not intended to be collaborative.

Plagiarism is defined as the offering as one’s own work the words, sentence structure, ideas, existing imagery, or arguments of another person without appropriate attribution by quotation, reference, or footnote.  It includes quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the works of others without appropriate citation.  No claim of ignorance about the nature of plagiarism will excuse a violation.


The student has a right to appeal sanctions resulting from academic dishonesty.   A student who decides to file a formal grievance must submit the request in writing to the departmental Chair or the Dean.  This is ordinarily done within thirty working days of the date an alleged incident occurred or a problem began.  The necessary form is available from the Academic Dean of the college or school where the alleged problem occurred.  The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is the final recourse in the academic appeal process.

Accommodations for students with documented disabilities

Marywood University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Students with disabilities who need special accommodations must submit documentation of the disability to the Office of Disability Services, Liberal Arts Center 223B, in order for reasonable accommodations to be granted. The Office of Disability Services will partner with students to determine the appropriate accommodations and, in cooperation with the instructor, will work to ensure that all students have a fair opportunity to perform in this class. Students are encouraged to notify instructors and the Office of Disability Services as soon as they determine accommodations are necessary; however, documentation will be reviewed at any point in the semester upon receipt. Specific details of the disability will remain confidential between the student and the Office of Disability Services unless the student chooses to disclose or there is legitimate academic need for disclosure on a case-by-case basis.  For assistance, please contact Diane Webber, Associate Director of Disability Services, at 570.348.6211 x2335 or

Health And Safety Issues

Art students are now using more and more materials that may be hazardous to their health, particularly if used for extended periods of time.  The instructor will make every attempt to safeguard the health and safety of students, but ultimately the issue is in the hands of each individual.

In your best interest, the following recommendations should be considered:

  1. As materials are introduced, students should not hesitate to ask questions regards contents of materials and the “toxicity”.
  2. Read labels carefully.
  3. Use materials according to manufacturer’s instructions and only for their recommended purpose.
  4. Be aware of what others in the studio are doing.
  5. Be considerate of others.  What you do may affect others working around you.
  6. If you feel tired or uncomfortable, take a break or get some “fresh” air.
  7. Do not eat, drink, or smoke in the studios.  There are designated areas for these activities.

Try to develop good work habits and keep your work area clean and organized as possible.

No messy or odorous food in the lab!