SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, S.I. NEWHOUSE SCHOOL
Renée Stevens is an award-winning motion and interactive designer, educator, and public speaker currently living in Syracuse, NY. She splits her time between owning a design studio (R studio) and as an Assistant Professor of Design at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She is an exclusive designer for Minted, where she has had the opportunity to teach typography to designers around the world. She is an active member of AIGA Upstate New York and serves on the board as the Assistant Director of Education. Her favorite things include properly kerned type, perfectly paced music, and beautiful whitespace. In 2014, Stevens brought her passion project to life by created the design workshop, Pixels & Print, which provides a real-world collaborative experience to students by working on projects focusing on the power of design and social impact. Stevens has been recognized nationally and internationally with awards from Graphis, Print, GDUSA, AEJMC, Minted, and Lightwork, but her proudest achievements happen every day through the work of her students.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE EDUCATION A MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR CAREER?
At a young age, my grandfather would give me jobs, like rolling his coins. Afterwards, he would hand them back to me to pay me for my time. What I saw as a chore actually taught me things like math skills, being an entrepreneur, building a strong work ethic, and about being a teacher. He showed me that the best teachers are those where the students don’t even realize they are learning. This small act is brilliant. It is what inspired me to become a teacher, and everyday I aspire to be the kind of teacher to others that my grandfather was to me.
IS THERE A SPECIAL CHALLENGE TO EDUCATING STUDENTS IN 2017 IN LIGHT OF TODAY’S POLITICS OR ECONOMICS OR TECHNOLOGY OR CULTURE OF THIS MOMENT?
More than ever there is a need to emphasize problem solving and empathy in every aspect of the design process for this generation of designers. The more technology we have, the more challenges will arise that need a design solution, and the more unstable the political and economical world becomes, the more we need to focus on the power of design for the greater good. In every course, there is a need to spend more time teaching students how to be problem solvers with a sense of empathy for the user and other humans.