Medium and Message: Graphic Design, Audio Ethnography, and Design Thinking

Fall Open
Class Standing
Eric Stein
Lynarra Featherly

In an attention economy, we have to “earn” attention, and, whatever it is we want to get done in this world, it depends more than ever on effective messaging. In this program, we’re interested in exploring communication channels that challenge and transform us and our projects.  We want to understand what animates information, what calls us to action, and how to offer dynamic experiences by design. Think of the intimacy and impact of a true-crime podcast, or the immediate effect of an intriguing book cover. Think of the power of voice and the vocal instrument in a well-crafted interview, bringing life-history to life. The impact of messaging is by design.

In this two-quarter, first-year program we will explore graphic design, podcasting, and design thinking as an entry point into a range of creative, intellectual, and applied studies and careers. In our work together, we will engage in projects-based studio work in order to gain skills in artistic practice and insights into the relative effectiveness of various channels of communication design. We will also engage in the study of design history and design theory in order to explore the historical and philosophical underpinnings that inform design thinking and making. We will turn to the formal structures involved in visual and audio communication to understand how text, image, and voice can be brought together in innovative and creative ways.

Graphic design will be offered in fall and winter quarter; we will experiment with fundamental principles and practices in image-making, typography, and visual composition, both by-hand and digitally. We will work with Adobe design software to include Adobe Creative Cloud Express. We will investigate how framing and manipulating text and image can alter visual communication through a series of small projects and materials experiments. Students enrolled in Medium and Message for 14 credits winter quarter will continue on with the graphic design work. In Graphic Design II, students will build on the foundational principles and practices of visual design by directly applying their skills to create two brand identity style guides. In the process of creating their style guides, students will learn to use Adobe InDesign, add a familiarity with web design, and deepen their knowledge of typography and publication. Students enrolled in Medium and Message winter quarter for 10 credits will not take the Graphic Design component.

In Audio Ethnography, we will learn techniques of ethnography, digital field recording, sound design, and audio editing. In fall quarter, we will learn field recording techniques, basics of sound design, and complete several projects that use ethnographic approaches, which means closely documenting and narrating our surroundings and our social world. That work will culminate in a finished podcast. In winter quarter, we will continue to explore audio recording techniques, with an introduction to microphones and audio editing using Adobe Audition digital software.  We will concentrate on the sound and significance of voice and story. Major audio work for winter quarter includes an in-depth life history interview as the basis for a podcast episode.

In winter quarter, all students in Medium and Message will participate in shared intellectual work and collaborative projects with students and faculty in the program Art Time in Animation and Painting as part of a 2-credit component in Interdisciplinary Design. 

This program incorporates Greener Foundations. Greener Foundations is Evergreen’s in-person 2-quarter introductory student success course, which provides all first-year students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive at Evergreen. First-year students who register for 10 or 14 credits in this program will be placed into Greener Foundations for an additional 2 credits, totaling 16 credits. Once first-year students have been placed into Greener Foundations, they will receive an email confirming their registration status.


Students registering for 4 or 14 credits may need to do some additional work to prepare for the graphic design component of the program. 

Course Reference Numbers
Fr (14): 20116
Fr (10): 20117
Fr (4): 20314

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (14): 10129

Academic Details

Design, Visual Arts, Broadcasting


$50 media fee and $20 museum visit fee each quarter. Additional $170 fee in fall quarter for overnight field trip.


In Person (F)
In Person (W)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Schedule Details
SEM 2 C1105 - Lecture


Date Revision 2022-12-19 This program is now accepting new students in winter quarter 2022-11-29 Updated description to account for changes in winter quarter 2022-04-12 $100 required studio fees added