What happens when a group of information design students create stirring visualizations of real world problems? That was Mount Royal University instructor Kelsey McColgan’s question when she assigned her fourth-year capstone students to create an exhibit surrounding the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals. The goals address global issues, such as poverty, inequality and climate change, with the intent of creating a brighter future.
Instructor Kelsey McColgan on the inspiration behind the Humanly project.
“So much of our project involves them observing people being out there in the world, seeing the manifestation of the problem, talking to subject matter experts. And they don’t have access to those things in other places nearly as easily,” she says.
Decent work and economic growth
Mount Royal information design student Tyson Leaf wants to find out more about how people learn. He believes learning styles may differ between professions and wants to know how someone laid off in one field would be able to transfer their learning skills to a potentially different field. He asks attendees to indicate their job and preferred ways of learning by dropping their answers into jars.
Mount Royal information design student Max Pabia wants to find out how workplaces can better accommodate individuals who have autism.
“I found that a lot of the solutions are actually mutually beneficial to both neurotypical as well as people on the spectrum, such as noise, [which] can be annoying to neurotypical people as well as those with autism,” he says.
Mount Royal information design student Elizabeth Griffin is visualizing the Indigenization of elementary education and what that would look like in a Grade 7 classroom.
“We tried to think of things that would be important in general Indigenous culture but especially in Alberta,” she says. The display includes painted bison, a medicine wheel, Indigenous books and a beading exercise which viewers are encouraged to try.
Mount Royal information design student Erica Loh and her partner Eman Elkadri looked at the importance of developing soft skills for individuals in the education system. Loh says these soft skills are largely learned during play, something that is mostly lost in higher education.
Mount Royal information design student Elise Martinoski believes the school system is “leading students to an inability to achieve deep level learning.” But getting from a concept to an actual display may be easier said than done.
By using a sketchbook, she and her team figured out how to develop their project by asking questions like, “How can we show this?” and “What’s the best way people are going to understand it?”
Mount Royal information design student Katrina Tabuli immigrated from the Philippines with her parents seven years ago and witnessed the challenges of immigration first-hand. Her display, a game, invites participants to turn on all the light bulbs as they learn about different resources available to immigrants.
Mount Royal information design student Jenny Hagen says that you wouldn’t expect people living in Calgary to be “food insecure” but it’s a reality for many. The phrase “food insecurity” refers to the state of being unable to access food. A lack of food security can be attributed to “cost, proximity and skills or knowledge,” says Hagen.
Life on land
Mount Royal information design student Courtney Clarkson is using an app to help educate people about how we can better coexist with wildlife in Calgary.
“There’s sort of this understanding that urban and nature are very separate things … which isn’t necessarily the case and it’s definitely not the truth for a lot of our non-human neighbours,” she says.
The culmination of an entire semester’s work, the event displays visually stimulating exhibits designed to communicate how Calgarians can contribute to these sustainable development goals.
McColgan says it can be tempting to think the goals are only for developing countries and wants the exhibit to stress how they are relevant to Calgarians as well.
As a result, students were required to find “a local manifestation of a problem that fit within the United Nations sustainable development goals,” she says.
McColgan hopes that the exhibit sparks ideas and conversation about how individuals can make a difference in their own families and workplaces.