Do Good Design For Good

Assignment: Do Good Design For Good

Design Indaba—a better world through creativity

Your assignment is to select an issue, problem, or cause that you feel passionate about and apply your skills as a graphic designer to try to make a difference or be a part of the solution to that problem, issue or cause.

You will do research, write an abstract, submit your abstract to NCUR and have an option to get published, and design a campaign.

Read the AIGA publication “Do Good Design” by David Berman.

Cover of


C560sR-UsAATHtq.jpg“If art cannot change the world,
it can help to change the consciousness and drives
of the women and men who would change the world.”
—Herbert Marcuse

“It’s easy to make a buck, a lot harder to make a difference.”
Tom Brokaw

“What you do for yourself dies with you. What you do for others and the world lives on and is immortal.”
—Albert Pine

“We are not going to change the world, but we can certainly be a supporter of changing the world by creating great design… by helping to communicate the message.and wouldn’t you rather design trying?”

Check out these Additional Resource Links:




The topic for your research project may be related to the efforts of an already established organization (Habitat for Humanity, GreenPeace, etc.) or it may be simply in an area that you feel could be made better. You will first need to fully research the topic so that your are well-informed about all aspects of the situation. Then you will write an abstract stating that problem and your design intentions towards a solution. The research process for designers has some distinct similarities and differences with other academic disciplines.

What to Make?

After writing your abstract you will begin on the actual project. That project will be up to you. You must decide what kind of design applications and overall design approach would be most appropriate in meeting the needs of your issue/topic and the target audience that would be most affected by your efforts.

Look at these three specific areas to aid you in determining what products of design you should create:

  1. The characteristics of your target audience
    • for the purposes of this assignment, your audience must be defined by at least 4 specific characteristics. (examples of such characteristics include, but are not limited to: age range, gender, amount of education, place of residence, occupation, income range, interest/hobbies, lifestyle, etc.)
    • Your goal is to “know” this target group as you would your group of best friends. If you were to give the members of the target audience a birthday gift you would know what choices would be exactly perfect for them, much like you would when giving a gift to your best friend. Feel it
    • 6 Steps to Define Your Audience—how to define your target audience
  2. Your findings, research, the facts about the problem/topic
    • Know your topic. Specifically identify a problem related to this general topic. Find out through research more than what you initially were aware of as common knowledge. Become an expert on the subject.
  3. The “environment” or venue where your target audience most likely or generally can be expected to be found.
    • specific locations (examples of such characteristics include, but are not limited to: school, sports/music events, clinics/hospitals/doctor’s office, job/occupation, town, retail store/venue, etc.)


You are creating a unified group of design products—a  visual campaign. This is not simply a group of different designs, but instead a closely connected/integrated approach to delivering the message. One thing leads to another. For example a billboard may have as its primary purpose to grab attention and then to direct the audience to a website for additional information, which in turn, directs users to a smart device app allowing personal interaction on an ongoing basis. Metaphor Campaigns make use of metaphor as a technique to visually engage the audience through creative juxtapositions or unusual comparisons and are a common characteristic of many contemporary campaign approaches. This technique is closely tied to expressing your ideas in a compelling fashion.

More than the Facts—a Compelling Story

It will not be enough for you to simply present factual information. You must instead present a compelling story supported by factual information. A compelling story is one that motivates. It employs the Gestalt principal of Isomorphic Correspondence and is grounded in knowing your target audience to the degree that you present the information in a manner that will touch your audience members on a personal level. You must therefore, know several important things about your audience before you begin. That information will guide you in how you make an effective and motivating—compelling—visual message.



Incentivize your message

In addition to making your message a compelling one you must also “incentivize” or this for your target audience. Unfortunately, human nature has proven to us that people simply will not do anything, let alone the “right” thing, unless personally motivated in some way. They must see how they will personally benefit or gain from doing what you want them to do. You must therefore “connect the dots” for them. Empower them. Spell this out explicitly, meaning, you must indicate what or how they will be rewarded. Simply telling them that the result will be a better community is not enough.

Submitting your Abstract to NCUR 

After you have written your abstract and before you submit it to NCUR, you first must send it to Pacific’s co-ordinator of undergraduate research. She is Pacific’s Undergraduate Research Coordinator (URC) Lydia Fox. Her contact info:

Lydia K. Fox, Ph.D.

Director of Undergraduate Research
Chair, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95212


My contact information:

S. Brett DeBoer

To submit your abstract to NCUR:

Submitting the abstract to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) is for the purpose of having it accepted for your presentation at the national conference and for possible publication in their annual proceedings. You will first need to open an account with NCUR to complete this process. (free)
Note: The title and author(s) of your abstract will appear EXACTLY as you enter them in the abstract submission form.  Please double-check punctuation and spelling before submitting.

  1. go to the NCUR link for Abstract guidelines
    read through all information and formatting guidelines there
  2. create a new student account from the “here” link found within the paragraph of information
  3. fill in your account information
  4. Select Visual Arts under Choose Subject
  5. Select Oral as the presentation Type

Over holiday break you will hear back from NCUR via email whether or not your proposal was accepted. If so, you then have the choice of writing a paper for presentation at the conference. This step is purely your choice and not mandatory  for this assignment or for attending and presenting at the conference, it is simply an opportunity for you to get published if you take advantage of it. (See below for additional information on writing the paper).

The national conference is held annually each spring at a different college campus. This typically includes a PowerPoint presentation that describes your final design and your process. It will also be presented at the Pacific Conference on Undergraduate Research (PURCC) which occurs annually each spring here on our campus.

Writing the Paper (optional)

The paper is submitted separately from the oral presentation to NCUR Proceedings. The NCUR Proceedings formatting guidelines can be found here.

These are the criteria that are used to review your paper from NCUR. Use them as a checklist to aid your writing style and organization.

  • Does the paper title adequately describe the project?
  • Is the paper in the proper format?
  • Single Spaced?
  • Not more than 10 pages?
  • Is the paper full justified?
  • Bold type used for title and paragraph headings only?
  • Are figures and tables in correct format?
  • Is the first page header in correct font (new times roman) and point size (9).
  • Paragraphs and subparagraph in prescribed format?
  • Does the abstract describe the project? (No personal Pronouns)
  • Are the references adequate and in the prescribed format?
  • Is the paper logical and coherent?
  • Is the hypothesis or research question or purpose of the project stated clearly?
  • Is the methodology clearly presented and adequate?
  • Is the author’s conclusion fully supported by the data’s analysis?
  • Does the student demonstrate an awareness of other research relevant to the topic?
  • Does the conclusion genuinely follow from that argument?
  • Is the conclusion the result of genuine, relevant, and sufficient evidence, intelligent and analyzed and fairly employed?
  • Does this paper demonstrate the maturity and thoroughness that distinguish genuine undergraduate research from a traditional research paper performed as a course assignment, even a clever one?

National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)


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