GDES-360 spring 2023 / David Ramos, American University Design

Single-page schedule

Week 01


Intro, Process

In class



There’s reading due for next class. It’s on the page for next class.

Week 02


Encodings and elementary perceptual tasks; JavaScript

photo of mine with metal extracted

"Jubilee Mine, Concordia — 6,500 tonnes of copper extracted," from Dillon Marsh's "For What It's Worth" series.

Introduce yourself

  • Introduce yourself on Miro (there’s an “introductions” frame over to the right)


  • Methods of encoding data
  • Elementary perceptual tasks


Reading (for this week)

  • A Taste of Observable (
  • Truthful Art ch. 1 (What We Talk About When We Talk About Visualization)
  • Truthful Art ch. 5 (Basic Principles of Visualization)

Do the reading

In some courses, you can get away with skipping the reading, though your employability and depth as a designer will suffer. This class, though, is heavily technical and runs with shorter meeting times. You will need the information from the reading in order to complete assignments. We will not cover all the material from the reading during class.

Week 03


JavaScript, Observable, and the Vega-Lite API

small multiples maps

Most Common Jobs, By State, by Nathan Yau, at Flowing Data.


N.B.: Plan to show your work, in progress, for a critique during any class this semester.


Optional reading

Week 04


Time-series data

line graph

"Share of first-class mail considered on-time." The Postal Service Survived the Election. But It Was Crushed by Holiday Packages., New York Times. By Emily Badger, Quoctrung Bui, and Margot Sanger-Katz.



Week 12


Text and typography for visualization

line graph

From Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago., New York Times. By Jeremy Ashkenas, Haeyoun Park and Adam Pearce.


  • Truthful Art ch. 3 (The Truth Continuum)
  • Look at 10 projections in Projection Reference, a guide to map projections by Bill Rankin

From class

  • Observable now offers a Chart cell, for building fast, exploratory visualizations without writing code. See the introduction/announcement.

Week 14


Desk crits

example map example map

From Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas, by Denis Wood.


  • Truthful Art ch. 2 (The Five Qualities of Great Visualizations)

Exam period

Class does not meet during exam period.

Turn in any remaining work by Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m. (D.C. time). Submit work on Canvas.