Faculty / School of Media : Culture : Design

Behnoush McKay

Chair and Professor, Graphic Design

Behnoush McKay is a professor and chair of the Graphic Design Department at Woodbury University and has a BFA in Graphics and Packaging Design from Art Center College of Design, and an MFA in Visual Communication from California State University, Northridge 

Behnoush joined Woodbury University in 1997 as an adjunct faculty and moved to a full-time position in 2006. During the last 12 years, she has presented her academic research at both international and national design and educational conferences on topics that include the future of graphic design, design education, social responsibility in design, and educational assessment. 

In the spring of 2021, Behnoush was invited by AGF to join their international educational institution, in collaboration with BIHE, to advance their new online Graphic Design Program and train new faculty. This online program has been offered to Iranian Bahá’I students, who have been denied higher education due to their religious beliefs. 

Behnoush’s academic research on Information Design, focusing on the study of interaction between quantitative and qualitative data, has led her to three areas of design theory, methodology, and practice: System Design, Thinking in Systems, and Active Learning.  

Recently, Behnoush has expanded her research to the areas of Transformative Education, Critical Thinking, and Experience Design. The result has been the development of a brand-new curriculum for the Woodbury University Graphic Design Department inspired by Cathy N. Davidson’s definition of student-centered pedagogy known as active learning as learning spaces where students are encouraged to create new knowledge from the information around them and to use it to make a public, professional, or experiential contribution that has impact beyond the classroom. The pedagogy demands an interdisciplinary approach to address the full range of concerns and the complicated nature of today’s design problems. If design thinking is the chosen process to investigate the initial stages of developing a communication strategy, designers must address the possible contributing factors of human cognition, social behavior, cultural setting, as well as economic and physical aspects in the definition of a design problem. 


California State University, Northridge California June 2007
Graduate School, Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication, with Distinction

Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California August 1991
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Graphics/Packaging, with Honors

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