History of Design Communication


Tuesday-Thursday 12:30 -1:50 pm

Office hours:

Office Hrs: Thursday

Office: Zoom

Hours: Thurs 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm or by appointment


Office: GHH 303

cell. 508.965.6642

Email: ekowalski@rwu.edu



This course fulfills a requirement in the Graphic Design Core Concentration. The focus of this course is the study of historical inventions, trends, and trendsetters as forces that have shaped the contemporary image of graphic design communications. The course covers a period beginning with the invention visual communication, the advent of printing press and ending with digital imaging. The invention of the printing press, the industrial revolution, the ongoing development of the computer and other significant evolution have influenced how we view visual imagery.

All members of this class have something to offer and can learn from each other. Therefore, active participation by all students is encouraged. All students are expected to read and review the relevant course material before class in order to make the class discussion as rich as possible and to fully examine all issues and questions.

It is expected that students will work on average approximately 3 hours per academic hour outside of class. At varying points during the semester, this may  increase or decrease for research and writing intensive moments. Allocating about 7-13 hrs per week to focus on this course is recommended.



During the course of our study we will:

Address origins and objects of visual communication, which aids in making history directly relevant to the practice of design;

  • Identify the relationship of graphic design to the larger social, economic, political and cultural contexts.
  • Identify the significant contributions and contributors in the history of design providing a context for the current and future state of design.
  • Examine design communications in a global environment.
  • Discover and examine significant technological advances as well as contributions of significant people over the course of time relating to visual communications.




Per the University Academic Standards: Regular attendance in classes is expected of all students. Professors announce attendance policies to all classes by the end of the first week of classes during each semester. If a student fails to comply with a professor’s attendance policy, as stated in the course syllabus, the professor may ask the Registrar to administratively withdraw the student from the course.


Three unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your grade, one letter grade. After 6 absences, the student will be withdrawn from the course if prior to university withdraw date; otherwise student will automatically receive an F for the course. There will be no excuse for missing class unless approved by the instructor. Students must directly speak to the instructor in advance of the absence or within 24 hours of a missed session to have it approved. In the event of illness, a doctor’s note is recommended. An email message or voice mail message does not necessarily constitute an approved absence. Chronic lateness or leaving early is disruptive to the class as a whole…thus, three tardies shall be considered one absence. You will be also be marked absent if you are over half an hour late, leave class early.


To have an absence be considered excused, with no exceptions, you must: notify me within 24 hours of the absence via email (ekowalski@rwu.edu) and provide written documentation of the excuse (doctor’s note, ect) within 1 week.



Deadlines are a major factor in the operation of any work environment. Therefore, all assignment deadlines are absolute. No work will be accepted beyond its due date. Turn in your work by the deadline even if you feel it is unfinished. It’s better to be present and participating during class discussions.  Assignments turned in on time can be revised during the last three weeks of the semester. If you are unable to turn an assignment in at it’s proper time for a legitimate reason, you must make arrangements with the instructor beforehand and must receive permission for a different due date.

Participation 10%


Complete the assignments given and participate fully during class sessions. It is essential that you ask questions and share opinions during discussions. Participation involves giving attention, looking, listening, preparing questions and sharing thoughts. Participation helps you learn to be more articulate and prepares you for a career as a professional.

Homework 30%


This is a brief response and general outline of the reading. Make note of what you found most interesting, least interesting, anything confusing, etc. Ask questions, connect the material from past readings, summarize in your words. These will not be evaluated based on writing skills, but rather level of  comprehension and reflection on the material. Points may be deducted for improper submissions or not enough content. Readings are assigned for most class sessions and should be completed prior to that session so that you are prepared to discuss the material relevant to class each day. See calendar.

Examinations 30%


Test will be given in class on the dates posted on the class blog. You must be present in class the day the test is given to receive full credit. Any test taken late will automatically receive a 35 point reduction.  If you have some sort of legitimate reason why you will be unable to attend class on the day that an examination is given you must notify me prior to or with 24 hours of the missed session. For example if your driving to class and get a flat tire (or some sort of other unfortunate thing that is not your fault) , contact me right away. If you can provide photographic evidence or some sort of receipt with a date. Then I may be able accommodate you with an extension.


The format for these exams will be a combination of slide identification, matching or short answer as well as possible take home or online components

Research Paper 30% + Manifesto extra credit


You will have a semester long formal research paper. This will be discussed in more detail at a later date. You will also have the opportunity to write brief manifesto or mission statement for extra credit. This will be discussed in more detail at a later date.




If you are a student with a disability for which you wish to receive academic accommodations, you must first register with Student Accessibility Services on the first floor of the University Library. After receiving an Academic Accommodation Authorization form, I will set up a private meeting with you to discuss any special circumstances related to your situation. This must occur within the first 2 weeks of the course. Accommodations will not be provided, “on demand” or “after the fact.”


Plagiarism is best defined as incorporating the words or ideas of another person into a paper or presentation without properly crediting the source from which they came. Plagiarism is a violation of ethical practices. The author who commits plagiarism attempts to claim another person’s work as his or her own. Thus, plagiarism is both a form of intellectual theft and intellectual fraud.

In its worst form, plagiarism may consist of directly copying large or small portions of either printed works or, as frequently happens in schools, written papers of another student. There are, however, more subtle forms of plagiarism as well. Paraphrasing, or changing an author’s ideas or words, is also a form of plagiarism if the source of the idea being paraphrased is not acknowledged, and this form of plagiarism is equal to direct copying.

No matter what the cause, universities consider plagiarism to be a serious offense—the most serious academic crime there is. Faculty members react against plagiarism because they consider it an attack on one of the values that universities hold sacred –honesty in the pursuit of knowledge.

Because universities consider plagiarism a serious offense, they treat violations seriously. Roger Williams University is no exception. A first offense may result in failure of the course involved, plus an entry on the student’s permanent record. A second offense is punishable by expulsion from the University.



We, the undergraduate students of Roger Williams University, commit ourselves to academic integrity. We Promise to pursue the highest ideals of academic life, to challenge ourselves with the most rigorous standards, to be honest in any academic endeavor, to conduct ourselves responsibly and honorably, and to assist one another as we live and work together in mutual support.



In case of inclement weather, there may be a cancellation of our session in the lab with expectations that all students should notified via the RWU alert system. You will be given ample notice of such cancellations as best possible. If you have not been notified that class is cancelled, and I’m not present at the beginning of class it should be assumed that class will be held (that I’m just late for some reason). Notifications of cancellation will occur via an email from me or someone from the office will post a notice.