Karen Zimmermann, University of Arizona
Jennifer Nichols, University of Arizona
Carolina Gonzalez, University of Arizona

In this paper we will discuss the challenges of building collaborations across the University community; the value of embedding information literacy in the art curriculum, and the impact of community engagement and real-world design experiences.

University of Arizona (UA) design students connected with the University’s communities in science, business, and the humanities to learn the process and benefits of creating meaningful and impactful work as members of interdisciplinary teams. Three disparate faculty in business, art and the library came together to team-teach an information graphics course. Their collective knowledge enhanced the learning experience for the art students. For a final collaborative project, design students paired up as a team with a UA collaborator, including soil scientists studying environmental bio-design, professional mentoring program for women, business analysts in the budget office, and the University makerspace.


Karen Zimmermann is an artist, designer, and educator. She is a Professor in the University of Arizona, School of Art, and chair of the Illustration & Graphic Design Division. Karen has received numerous grants and awards including an Arizona Project Grant by the Arizona Commission of the Arts, UA Deans fund for Excellence, and UA Faculty Fellowship. She has been an active member on the American Institute of Graphic Art Design Education Committee and the College Book Art Association. Karen’s practice includes activities in letterpress printing, writing, graphic design, and art. Her writing has been published in “The Education of a Graphic Designer,”  “The Education of an E Designer,” “The Education of a Motion Designer”, JAB (Journal of Artists’ Books), “Design Education in Progress: Methodology and Process”, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Zed and Inform.  Her artwork examines the relationship between art, design, culture, and technology within the context of the environment. Karen received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University.

Jennifer Nichols is the Digital Scholarship Librarian at the University of Arizona Libraries, and project lead for the iSpace, the makerspace in the Science-Engineering Library. She collaborates with faculty, students and partners across the University to integrate digital scholarship tools into their research and teaching. She has been a Fine Arts and Digital Humanities Liaison Librarian, as well as a Youth Services Librarian and Program Manager for the implementation of a MacArthur/IMLS YouMedia Learning Labs grant.

Carolina Gonzalez is a Senior Honors student at the University of Arizona studying Graphic Design. She is from Tucson, Arizona.