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  • Locations: Vienna, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Click for Tuition + Program Fee: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Short-term Required GPA: 2.75
Liberal Studies Domain: A+L, EL Study Abroad Contact: Dominique Brown
How COVID-19 could impact this program or your study abroad plans: Please see the Study Abroad COVID-19 page for more information.
Program Description:


Critical Foundations in Modern Design is a two-week trip to Vienna, Zurich and Basel. Students will visit graphic design companies, branding studios, type foundries, and print shops. Additionally, there will be visits scheduled to museums, architectural sites, cultural sites and historical sites. The objective for this program is for students to develop a more complete understanding of modernism and how it has impacted visual culture and design. The program will examine the origins of modernism and how reactions to existing philosophies of extravagant ornamentation and decoration established a new movement in design that embraced industrialization and simplicity.

Modernism, in one way or another, still affects all design today. Designers are participating in, or countering against this philosophy. Students who better understand the origins and importance of the movement will be better prepared for an industry that continues to be influenced by this approach.


Lee Zelenak is a designer and educator based in Chicago. He attended Kent State University, earning both his BFA and MFA in Visual Communication Design with a concentration on Branding and Environmental Graphic Design.

Previously, he was an Associate Creative Director in VSA Partners’ Chicago office, focused on branding efforts for IBM as well as projects for Google, Mack Trucks, AIGA Chicago and Alibaba. In 2012, he was a Senior Designer for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Lee also steered branding projects at Twist Creative for clients including Ohio City Incorporated, Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor and The People for Joe Cimperman campaign.

He has taught classes at Kent State, served as Programming Director for AIGA Cleveland and is currently a faculty member in the School of Design at DePaul University.


Nathan Matteson has been working and teaching in Chicago for the past two decades. He is a fiercely anti-disciplinary designer whose work exists on a throughway to a crossroads of something somewhere. His practice investigates the feedback loop between decision-making and design; explores numeric optimization strategies for visual design; and wrings its metaphorical hands over the relationships among computation, intention, tectonics, and immateriality.

He has presented and exhibited his work nationally and internationally at venues including the International Design Awards, TDC2, TypeCon, AIGA DEC, Design Incubation, CAA, ACM/SIGDOC, and ACM/SIGCHI. He is a founding member of the design collective Obstructures; a partner in Kusasystems; an assistant professor at DePaul University’s School of Design; a researcher at the Center for Robust Decisionmaking in Climate and Energy Policy at the University of Chicago; and a board member of the Society for Typographic Arts.


All students will be enrolled in the following 2 courses:
Course GD 220 / GD 390 (Undergraduate): History of Graphic Design
Credits 4 credit hours
Term registered Spring 2021
Liberal Studies Domain AL (Arts and Literature)
Taught by Lee Zelenak
Course description This course will primarily focus on foundations in modern graphic design and will introduce students to critical attitudes that drove the development of modern design in the twentieth century, and examine how this movement has continued to impact visual culture and design. The course will examine the origins of modernism and how reactions to existing philosophies of extravagance, ornamentation, and decoration established a new movement in design that embraced industrialization, efficiency, and simplicity.
Class meeting times Fridays in the Loop, Time TBD
Course GD 380 (Undergraduate)/ DMA 599 Independent Study (Graduate): Client and Community
Credits 4 credit hours
Term registered Spring 2021
Liberal Studies Domain Experiential Learning
Taught by Nate Matteson
Course description This section of GD 380 Design for client and community will investigate the relationships between the design of housing and the communities that are affected. Changes in the design of housing reflect changes in our attitudes towards modernism and ethics. Students will study the history of housing in Chicago; research specific housing archetypes; how outstanding examples of housing have responded to their historical and contemporary contexts; interview members of the communities’ whose lives exist around these built environments; and finally prepare case studies that explore these intersections among design and communities. .
Class meeting times Fridays, Loop Campus, Time TBD
  Graduate students are not required to take both courses, but may choose to. Graduate students are required to be enrolled in GD 380/DMA 599. Please note that although some courses are registered in a particular term, some coursework or final assignments may be due in a different term. E.g. Course registered in winter quarter, but coursework is due in spring quarter once the travel component of the program is complete.

Students will be staying in hostels.

Vienna and Zürich are epicenters of modern design and full of peerless examples of 20th century design. We will be visiting sites that include Wittgensteinhaus, Looshaus, Villa Tugendhat, and LeCorbusier House. Museums will include the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Zürich Kunsthaus, Museum Haus Konstruktiv, and MAK Vienna. We will be visiting contemporary design studios in each city as well.

All students participating in study abroad will be charged both tuition (billed at the regular DePaul tuition rate, based on the number of credits enrolled) and a program fee. Please read the program fee details carefully to understand exactly what is included, as this can vary from program to program. If the program fee is posted, be sure to note whether the fee is current or from a previous year (past program fees may serve as a guide until the current program fee is available). If the current program fee has not yet been posted, please check back closer to the application deadline. Please also note the withdrawal policy.

DePaul offers several types of scholarships for students studying abroad, and students should visit the scholarship page early in the application process for information on eligibility and deadlines.


DePaul Study Abroad is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and this program is currently moving forward in the Summer 2021 term. If the program is canceled prior to departure, students will be refunded 100% of the program fee and withdrawn from any associated classes with no penalty or tuition charges. Study Abroad has also modified the standard Withdrawal Policy, and any students who commit to this program and decide to withdraw 90+ days prior to the program start date will not be charged any withdrawal fees. For more information, go to the DePaul Study Abroad COVID-19 Updates page.

If you are planning to study abroad and do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. Ensure your passport is valid for 6 months after your travel dates. Some programs require travelers to obtain visas. In that case, contact the local consulates or embassies of the countries you will be visiting for up-to-date instructions on how to apply for them. As of this publication, students on the Austria and Switzerland program who are US citizens DO NOT need a visa. Please note, however, that visa requirements can change.  

DePaul University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or handicap in admissions, employment, or the provision of services. Inquiries regarding this policy should be addressed to the Director of Human Resources, 1 East Jackson Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604.

Circumstances, such as an unexpected event abroad or a curriculum change, may require DePaul University to make changes to the program. DePaul University reserves the right to cancel or alter programs and courses without notice.

Dates / Deadlines:

Thank you for your interest in this program! We are not currently accepting applications. In general, applications open about 6 months before program application deadlines.

This program is currently not accepting applications.