EGR 381: Design for Understanding with Sheila Pontis


Clarity and understanding are essential to creating change and impact in society, business, and everyday life. This class introduces students to processes and methods for tackling complex communication challenges across a range of contexts. We will study the theory and practice of information design, bridging cognitive factors with visual principles for effective presentation of data, concepts, and other types of content. Through hands-on assignments, we will practice methods and explore techniques to design information effectively.

Sample Reading List

Richard S. Wurman, Information Anxiety
Edward Tufte, Visual Explanations
Colin Ware, Visual Thinking for Design

Reading/Writing Assignments

Students will capture their progression in learning by keeping a Visual Journal. Reading assignments approximately 40 pages per week.


Paper in lieu of Final - 30%
Design Project - 30%
Papers - 20%
Class/Precept Participation - 20%

Other Requirements

The class will consist of short presentations, readings and case studies as well as hands-on assignments, and individual and group projects.

Prerequisites and Restrictions

Interest, passion and curiosity for understanding and making sense of the world, and becoming a visual communicator. Previous design experience is not necessary.