Ohio University

OHIO students make international connections through 2020 Visual Discovery Conference

Published: November 23, 2020 Author: Jessica Steele

On the week on Nov. 2, a group of Ohio University students, along with students from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the U.S., participated in the 2020 Visual Discovery Conference (VDC). VDC is a free international workshop for students and academics focusing on all forms of visual communication. 

The conference, founded through a collaboration between Ohio University and Augsburg University (Germany), is supported by several other universities in both the United States and Europe. The inaugural conference was held at the University of Venice in Venice, Italy, in 2018 and the second here at Ohio University in 2019. This year, the conference was held virtually.

The conference and workshop's purpose is to give students the opportunity to collaborate with students from other universities and get hands-on experience in their field. It also gives students the chance to speak with industry experts and learn from Visual Communication instructors from the U.S. and Europe. Collaborating, building relationships and networking are all helpful skills for when they enter the global workforce. The 2019 VDC kicked off with a keynote presentation by internationally renowned data visualization professor and author Alberto Cairo (University of Miami, Fla.).

“Collaborating with my team to create a portfolio-worthy project in under a week was a valuable experience but making connections with other students and the instructors during the Visual Discovery Conference was the real reward. I think if you're able to take advantage of this program, you should, as it's free to register and offers a lot of opportunity,” OHIO graduate student Amanda Weisbrod said.

Although the conference took place online this year, students still received opportunities to work together and contribute on creative projects which are now featured on VDC’s website, https://visualdiscoveryconference.wordpress.com.

This year’s theme was “This is Us,” and gave students an opportunity for self-discovery as well as learning from and about their peers from different places. 

Weisbrod, who has participated in the conference since 2018, collaborated with a fellow Ohio University student and two students from Europe on a project titled “Mini Instagram Vignettes.”  

“Our team decided to create a series of Instagram posts about each of us to give a little snapshot into our lives. Each post consists of an introduction page featuring a color that represents our individual personalities and four re-occurring topics: where we’re from, our favorite hobbies, what entertainment we consume, and what beverages we like to drink,” Weisbrod said. “We picked a partner and designed each other’s Instagram post. Even though some of us live across the ocean from one another, we found that we still have many things in common.”

“OHIO students were involved in 12 of the 13 four-person teams,” said John Grimwade, faculty advisor for the VDC and assistant professor emeritus in the Ohio University School of Visual Communication. Working virtually with international students, they produced a wide-ranging set of creative visual projects. The educators (on both sides of the Atlantic) agreed that the collaboration, and the work produced, reached a high standard. Overall, despite this year’s constraints, the conference was a complete success.”