Pacific art and business students collaborate to make a global difference

Once a year at Pacific, a senior-level international marketing and a junior-level graphic design class team up to do a service-learning project for a global social entrepreneur.  The project gives the entrepreneur an opportunity to realize marketing goals that may be beyond their reach without the project.  At the same time, it gives students the opportunity to gain real-world experience, while simultaneously making a difference in disadvantaged communities around the world.

In real life, marketers and designers find themselves working together all the time to create powerful campaigns to support their clients. They need to understand each other’s objectives and speak the same language. Yet, these two groups rarely meet together in the academic environment. This project mirrors the professional realities that many students will face upon graduation while championing impactful non-profit projects.

Making a global difference

To date, students have interacted with entrepreneurs from almost every continent around the globe, working on a wide range of projects. One example is an ad campaign for a circus in Peru that is made up of street children. A Pacific team also created packaging for a chicken feed company in Nigeria that uses mango seeds instead of corn to create chicken feed resulting in a 50% cut in the cost of chicken feed for farmers there. 

Using their global network of social entrepreneurs, professors carefully solicit projects up to a year in advance based on the need as well as the nature of the project. The professors seek out organizations with unique missions/needs, in an effort to design an interesting project for the students which would maximize student buy-in.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

Led by marketing Professor Sacha Joseph-Mathews and art Professor Marie Lee, students from both BUSI 165 International Marketing and Arts 171 Graphic Design III classes are assigned to a specific project based on their skillsets. Marketing students develop marketing campaigns and graphic design students create visual materials like logos, posters, catalogs, mailers and social media posts to support the campaigns. The end result is a full marketing plan, three design deliverables per designer, professional mockups and high-quality design files that the client can use to realize their vision. 

Both groups learn from and with each other during the process. They get constant feedback from their professors, peers and clients through a highly structured set of assignments, deadlines and joint meetings. While gaining experience in their own discipline, students also gain an understanding of the other discipline. Students are exposed to new experiences, situations, people, knowledge and challenges that were uniquely foreign to them, but which hold significant payoff for the organizations, communities and countries these projects reside within.

Real-world experience 

It is truly learning by doing, as students are forced to deal with all the challenges of working in an international setting including different time zones, language barriers and designing a campaign for an international market and foreign culture.  Besides working with an actual client, student learn to collaborate in a multidisciplinary team.  This project serves as an excellent window into how the marketing and advertising world is organized today, as it mimics new structural developments in the world of design, marketing, and advertising: the creation of multidisciplinary teams.

At the end of the semester both sets of students have a real-world example of a project they worked on that made a global impact. They can then reference these projects on interviews with potential employers and use the designs they created to build their portfolios.