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

Fall 2022
Winter 2023
Freshman Only
Class Size: 46
10 14 Credits per quarter
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Taught by

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 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.

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 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 may have an option to continue graphic design work in an additional out-of-program class in winter quarter, dependent on availability.

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.

All students of this program will participate in both the audio and visual projects, as well as small-scale collaborative workshops, and shared intellectual work, including work with our sibling program Medium and Message: Fine Metals, Book Arts, and Design Thinking.

In winter quarter, students can enroll in the program for 10 or 14 credits. Students enrolled for 14 credits will, in addition to the curriculum described above, take a 4 credit design practicum focused on principles of accessibility and sustainability that will culminate in an applied project.


Fall 2022 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (14): 10129
Winter 2023 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (14): 20116
Fr (10): 20117

Academic details

Preparatory For

Design, Visual Arts, Broadcasting

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

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


In Person or Remote
In Person (F)
In Person (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 C1105 - Lecture


Date Revision
2022-04-12 $100 required studio fees added