Visiting Portland State professor Luke Bertus and his students are challenging PSU administrators to match fundraising money raised for a national charity outfit that provides clean water to underdeveloped nations. Bertus and his class are issuing the challenge to PSU administrators to match money they hope to raise through fundraising, which will be donated to Charity Water, a New York-based nonprofit organization.
Professor challenges PSU administration to philanthropy
Visiting Portland State professor Luke Bertus and his students are challenging PSU administrators to match fundraising money raised for a national charity outfit that provides clean water to underdeveloped nations.
Bertus and his class are issuing the challenge to PSU administrators to match money they hope to raise through fundraising, which will be donated to Charity Water, a New York-based nonprofit organization. In order to raise the money, Bertus’ students are creating and selling holiday themed cards and posters, as well as designing a chandelier made out of plastic bottles. All products will be sold to raise money to donate to Charity Water, which will use the money to build a well for an African community in need, Bertus said.
“What we’re doing in the beginning design class is looking at a socially conscious design practice,” Bertus said.
The plan, according to Bertus, is to sell the first chandelier as a permanent light fixture to Smith Memorial Student Union’s Food for Thought Cafe, which was discussed earlier this week with the cafe’s management.
“We’re also designing chandeliers for the provost’s or president’s office, or the design office. We want to see if the university can make a donation in exchange for the chandeliers,” Bertus said.
The class’ fundraising goal is $1000–the cost of a single well–but Bertus hopes the administration will match whatever he and his class can raise, he said.
Bertus, who teaches two art and design classes, said he decided to engage his students with the project in order to reconcile the conflict that graphic artists and designers have by designing or advertising products that people don’t necessarily need.
“Because designers still depend on clients who pay money, graphic design is usually directly connected with the corporate world,” Bertus said.
Bertus’ students worked in small groups during his beginning design class Wednesday evening, manipulating plastic bottles and using bits of paper to model their ideas.
“It’s an interesting project because Luke is using it as a stepping stone to show how design can be used for the greater good,” sophomore Samantha White said, as she and her group discussed different chandelier looks they might want to mimic.
The students have three weeks to finish building their water-bottle chandeliers. Students expressed some challenges they faced as they made their initial designs.
“The biggest challenge is trying to find something that’s aesthetic and functional,” said Mara Connolly, who is a 26-year-old graphic design major.
Bertus picked this unusual class assignment to show how graphic design can be used for something other than just promoting a consumer product.
Bertus also stressed the importance of challenging the university administration to match the amount of fundraising money he and his class can raise–especially given PSU’s green reputation.
“PSU has sustainability as one of its core values,” Bertus said. “I think the design curriculum should take the opportunity to step up to the plate. There are so many amazing projects out there that can use our help.”