Course Description

RISD Advanced Program for High School Students: Graphic Design: Visualizing and Communicating Data

Design by Yue Chen

Data visualization is storytelling that helps translate information into knowledge. With an abundance of information streaming into our lives, how can we process and design complex and large volumes of material into a simple, honest and accessible form? In this course students learn how to use information structure and systems of form, color and typography in projects that communicate data through a variety of methods such as maps, graphs, charts and diagrams. Lectures introduce historical references such as Charles Joseph Minard's 1869 flow diagram of Napoleon's campaign of 1812 and Henry Beck's 1931 revolutionary London Underground map. Contemporary designers Giorgia Lupi, Francesco Franchi, Sandra Rendgren, Nigel Holmes and Nicholas Felton will also be used as inspiration for individual projects. Issues regarding data collection and individual privacy will be touched upon, including a look at how artists such as "Glass Room" are addressing these concerns. Assignments will explore issues of mapping, hierarchy, location, time, comparison, motion, format, and the use of symbolic visual language to help students build a series of concepts and final work. Students will learn various methods of compiling data and translating this information in both analog (hand-making) and digital tools.


  • In this intensive course and Visual + Critical Language, students should expect to spend a combined minimum of 20 hours per week engaging in coursework across both courses. Students should plan their schedule accordingly to keep up with class.
  • In conjunction with your Featured Topics course(s), you are also required to enroll in Visual + Critical Language. When you register for this Featured Topics course, you will also be charged for the tuition of Visual + Critical Language. You will see this enrollment reflected in your Student Portal before the start date of the course. Visual + Critical Language will meet live two times: during the first and final live sessions of your Featured Topics course.
  • This course requires access to one or more applications that are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Please visit the Adobe website to check "minimum system requirements" for your computer before registering.


This course is part of RISD's Advanced Program Online, a pre-collegiate program for students ages 15–18 in grades 10–12.

Students who have completed or are currently enrolled in a prerequisite Essential Fundamentals course are eligible to enroll in the Advanced Program Concentration, which includes a Featured Topics course. If you have not yet completed an Essential Fundamentals course, you will receive an Enrollment Warning at checkout, and will be required to submit a Prerequisite Override Request for review.

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.
Required fields are indicated by .