Rebecca Kelly

Professor Communications Design

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Personal profile

Research interests

Rebecca Kelly’s interests lie in teaching the importance of conceptual thinking, not only to promote the virtues of invention and creativity, but ultimately the power of smart communication.

She teaches methodologies for effective visual communication and the complexities of advertising design and pursues a research agenda surrounding design sustainability. She has taught at the University of North Texas, Mississippi State University, and, currently, Syracuse University. Her students have been featured in leading design publications, earned prestigious awards, and accepted positions at prominent Fortune 500 companies. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Kelly is a children’s book author and partner in a small design firm in New York.

Her latest two projects include using design methodology to advocate for young girls in S.T.E.M, S.T.E.A.M. and C.R.E.A.T.E  fields and using children's books as the best medium to communicate that message. The second project was practicing design diversity skills to design an eco-friendly off the grid home, which was recently selected to appear on the DIY Channel - Building Off The Grid. 



Research interests

I am an assistant professor in communications design at Syracuse University. My interests lie in teaching the importance of conceptual thinking, not only to promote the virtues of invention and creativity, but ultimately the power of smart communication.

I pursue a body of research that examines the future of the Communications/Graphic Design industry and its relationship to academia. I continue to ask and challenge what are the qualities that a designer student today must possess to be viable in the quickly evolving future. What are those attributes that will ensure today’s student must obtain to be successful in a job that may or may not exist in its current form. How do I train designers for jobs that don’t currently exist?

I also believe that a designers’ processes, including design thinking and critical thinking are the necessary skills that will benefit a designer through an ever changing industry. Further, I believe and continuously seek opportunities to discover and apply those skills to any industry/problem/scenario to problem solve an even better solution.

1. Design Education: Is education preparing students for a constantly changing industry:

a. Design in Decline: Breathing New Life Into an Industry Through Education
b. Deprogramming Design Education: Breaking down a traditional curriculum to build a better program
c. Redesigning Design: Reestablishing Our Relevance After Losing Our Value.

2. Design Thinking/Critical Thinking and their roles in society:
a. Decoding Democracy through Visual Literacy: Reading Between the Memes
b. Decoding Democracy: Arming a New Generation to View Social Media with Critical Thinking: Phase II
c. Viral Design: User Concepts of Virality on the Niche Social Media Site (collaboration with Jeff Hemsley).

3. Design as Social Innovation:
a. VIEWpoint Kit: Design Tools for Achieving International Perspectives (Visual + Idea Exchange Workshop)
b. Decoding Democracy: A Social Media Accountability Project, A.I. and the News grant: An open challenge to educate society to navigate on social media for the betterment of society (finalist – only 12% accepted, no others from SU but institutions such as M.I.T. and BBC are represented)


Communications Design, Designer, School of Design

External positions

Partner/Creative Director, Pixel Pushers Design, Inc.

Research Interests

  • Design Sustainability
  • Strategy Development
  • Integrated Design
  • Designer Diversity
  • Ethics in Design
  • Social Impact Design
  • Design for Good
  • Problem Solution Thinking
  • High Impact Design
  • Advertising Design
  • Future Orientation
  • Designer of the Future
  • Creative Methodologies
  • Teaching Design Thinking
  • Staying Relevant in the Profession


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