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As a young designer in New York City in the 1980s, I remember feeling intimidated, then dismissive, while listening to scholarly papers read by noted academics at design conferences. The self-defensive murmuring seemed audible: “Easy for them to lecture us. Maybe design should be more politically, socially, or ecologically correct. But they’re clueless about what we do—bet they never worked in the industry—dealt with budgets, overheads, tight deadlines, and quirky design staff, then put up with crazy clients and still managed to do good work!” But that was then.design Now I’m one of them. I am a professor of graphic design teaching at University of Minnesota’s Design Institute. Having migrated to this side, I now see that those rarefied lecturers served as the practitioners’ conscience. And yes, it is easier on this side of the enterprise to lecture about design “correctness.” So why did I decide to convert? After fourteen years as a video designer, then art director at national TV news organizations (CNN, ABC, NBC, and PBS), I quit. Working on news coverage of the first Gulf War sent me into existential crisis. And although I worked at The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, one of the most highly respected programs on TV, I still found the value of what I was doing questionable. At the time, over 90 percent of U.S. citizens got their daily news from television. I became increasingly disillusioned with the inside machinations of the mass media and the government censorship I saw being imposed. I had also become involved with a loose-knit group of activists who made music videos and documentaries for human rights causes. Working for both groups became increasingly difficult. I was burning myself out and, not seeing many gray haired ladies in the TV news business at the time, I wondered what would be my best path to a more viable and tranquil future. Since I was finding I couldn’t influence the media to my satisfaction from the inside, I set out to influence future practitioners before they went inside. So I opted for “downward mobility,” became a “media exile” in the cloistered world of academia and earned my MFA so I could teach.design As I have come to discover, teaching graphic design is a powerful force for Hybrid Teaching: From Practitioner to Professor change. I see how we educators can shape the field and the huge responsibility we bear. In 2001, aiga said there were more than 500 graphic design programs in fouryear colleges and universities and nearly 2,000 two-year colleges in the United States. Right now, that could represent as many as 250,000 design students that we have taught and graduated since then. Furthermore, the U.S. Labor Census in 2002 reported: “Individuals with little or no formal education in design . . . will find it very difficult to establish and maintain a career . . . most designers need a bachelor’s degree, and candidates with a master’s degree hold an advantage.” Given these statistics and my background in practice, I have found walking the line between teaching “ideal” theory and “real” practice the most balanced approach to my pedagogy. In the past ten years, I have developed hybrid strategies and assignments, so I’m able to fuse these two worlds. My most successful hybrid projects are public service announcements (PSAs). They fulfill an immediate societal need—one of the primary reasons I opted for teaching over practice—and they act as an excellent learning vehicle.design