The Refugee Crisis: Using Infographics

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In this series of posts, I’m thinking about ways to teach the Syrian refugee crisis using readings from Emerging.  Infographics offer a unique way for students to think about the crisis while also engaging metaissues of visual design and data presentation.  I would start by searching the web for these infographics, which are fairly easy to find using the search terms “infographic Syrian refugee.” (The example on the right comes from Visually.)


You might even ask students to locate these sources, allowing them to select infographics they find particularly useful or compelling. The introduction to Emerging has material on reading visual texts that can be useful in approaching infographics but there are some readings from the text you might bring into play as well.

There’s a full portfolio of infographics contained in Emerging’s online content: Drake Martinet’s “Stacy Green, Will You Marry Me?,” Buckfire & Buckfire’s “Student Bullying,” and’s “The Real Effects of Drunken Driving.” These online  selections (e-Pages) are useful for introducing students to the genre of the infographic and giving them a sense of the range of work it can do in terms of both rhetoric and composition.  Elizabeth Dickinson’s “The Future of Food”—contained in Emerging—is a fuller use of this genre. Dickinson’s work could be described as an infographic essay about world hunger.  Dickinson offers students additional tools for considering the rhetorical decisions involved in crafting a compelling infographic, particularly when thinking about what text to use, how to use statistics, and how to design the graphic. I think it would also be useful to have students read the selections from PostSecret in Emerging.  Though also a visual genre, PostSecret looks and acts differently than an inforgraphic. Having that contextual contrast might be a useful way into talking more about rhetoric and design.

Using all of these readings together, I think it would be interesting to have students compose their own infographics about either the refugee crisis or some other compelling issue.  Such an assignment would broaden students’ understanding of composition and argument while offering them a chance for advocacy. If you have any assignments or suggestions for creating infographics, feel free link to and share in the comments below.

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About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.