New graphic design major fuses art & technology


Cairn University announces new Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design
In a society characterized by constant communication through both words and images, graphic design has assumed a prominent role in cutting through the clutter and helping individuals receive the information that they need most. In light of this significance, Cairn University is set to launch a Bachelor of Arts program in graphic design this fall.
“Graphic design is a skill set in demand everywhere from large companies, to ministries and nonprofits, to small studios, to the independent consultant realm,” says Matthew Stemler, who was hired last summer to develop and lead the program. “Visual communication abounds, and jobs for graphic design graduates range from illustrator to art director, from layout artist to web designer.”
Cairn’s graphic design major is designed to develop the technical skills and biblical mindedness needed to contribute to graduates’ workplaces professionally, ethically, and spiritually.
The program will focus on graphic arts’ connections to both the fine arts and technology. After initial substantial exposure to fine arts methods and practices in mediums as varied as relief printing and serigraphy, graphic design students will translate techniques learned with physical materials into technological ones.
This fall, the program will debut four of its new courses: Foundations of Design, Typography I, Digital Photography, and Digital Imagery I—Adobe Photoshop. Over 20 additional classes related to the major will roll out in subsequent semesters, ranging from 3D Design I/II, to Digital Illustration, to Interactive Media Design. These courses will add to the course offerings currently in place for Cairn’s Arts and Culture First Year Program and visual arts minor, which include courses in arts and cultures of the Western world, art history, aesthetics, and various studio electives.
“The 30-credit biblical core is important as we think about the development of our students in graphic design and other arts majors,” says Stemler, “because it guides the ways our students think about their work in relation to God and to others. We want them to develop an identity not only as artists, but as ‘visual citizens’: creatives who consider how their work is shaping and building up their communities, who feel a sense of responsibility to God and others stemming from their gifts and abilities. They have a sense of purpose and a commitment to excellence that can open doors to conversations about their faith and biblical worldview.”
This new major is funded by Forward: The Campaign for Cairn University, which aims to raise $1.5 million to explore and develop new programs in the sciences and technology. In addition to hiring faculty and acquiring library resources, funds raised will also support an upgrade to existing computer lab space, including a new Mac lab equipped with industry-standard design software . To date, over 30% of funds needed for this goal have been raised.
Just approved this spring, the program has already attracted 58 inquiries to date.
Know a prospective student interested in graphic design and centered on serving Christ? Refer a student at


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