Students Recognized by 'Design for Good' Project

The awareness campaign included installations of pears, with flags indicating how far they traveled. 

July 19, 2013                               

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – A public awareness campaign designed and implemented by graphic design students at Illinois Wesleyan University has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Design for Good project.

The largest professional design organization in the country, AIGA published a case study of the campaign — “What We Eat and Why It Matters” —this week. Design for Good is an innovative movement within the design profession, supported and encouraged by AIGA.

Led by Professor of Art Sherilyn McElroy, eight Illinois Wesleyan students enrolled in the “Graphic Design IV” course in the 2011-2012 academic year participated in “What We Eat and Why It Matters,” a liberal arts cluster of courses organized on the theme of food and social justice. McElroy said the graphic design students’ first objective was to bring visibility to the course cluster by branding the topic and publicizing related events. The second objective was to raise awareness about the benefits of “real” local food rather than “bar-coded” packaged food.

Outdoor installations illustrated the food rule, "The whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead." 

“Our strategy first required simplification of a very complex topic,” said McElroy. She said the students designed educational pieces to bring attention to the 64 food rules in  Michael Pollan's Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (Penguin Books, 2009), which includes such witticisms as: “It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.”

Other elements included large-scale posters, flyers, videos and educational materials. One particularly popular aspect of the campaign was the utilization of outdoor installations. Referencing food rule 37 — “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead” — the class built 10 body shapes with white bread. The “bodies” were placed in highly populated areas of campus with signage for the food rule and QR codes referencing a Facebook group for publicizing events related to the cluster of courses.

Other tactics included prototypes for a campaign, “Sunday Suppers,” to teach students how to cook with real food on the night when the residence halls do not have dining service.

“In most design courses, students are given a specific visual problem and they individually design solutions,” said McElroy. “This project was the first to demand that the students collectively define the problem.” 

Students involved in the project were Travis Bates, Mike Grittani, Miles Jappa, Michelle Pappas, Renee Schade, Amber Sipich, Anneliese Tillmann and Shanshan Zhao. All are members of the graduating class of 2012.

This year’s cluster of liberal arts courses will focus on a theme of “Inequality,” and McElroy’s Graphic Design IV students will again participate. Clustering liberal arts courses are designed to expose students to a variety of issues surrounding a central social justice theme.

Contact: Kim Hill, (309) 556-3960