Bonne Zabolotney Wins RGD Design Educator Award

RGD Zab Photo
Image courtesy Bonne Zabolotney.
Designer and educator Dr. Bonne Zabolotney.

By Perrin Grauer

Posted on August 12, 2021

The designer and ECU faculty member was recognized for her contributions to student development and pedagogical research.

Designer and educator Bonne Zabolotney is the recipient of the 2021 RGD Design Educator Award of Excellence for Western Canada.

The award recognizes design faculty who have made “outstanding contributions to student development and pedagogical research,” according to the RGD’s (Association of Registered Graphic Designers) announcement.

“Bonne shares her methods and resources openly and has inspired me to change how I will teach my studio class in the coming semester,” Louise St. Pierre, ECU Associate Professor and DESIS Lab coordinator, said in a statement. “She offers this generosity to all her colleagues, whether she is sharing her insights from her PhD from RMIT in Melbourne, or the considerable political experience she gained as Provost.”

Celeste Martin, ECU’s Dean of the Ian Gillespie Faculty of Design and Dynamic Media, said Bonne’s practice as a teacher focuses on creating communities within the discipline, and empowering students to contribute to the broader culture of design.

“She actively challenges the individualistic and competitive frameworks of design education and education in general, in favour of relational and collaborative collectives,” Celeste’s statement reads. “She is a caring, humble, generous and supportive educator, committed to a design education that bravely engages with the challenges of our time.”

Bonne notes this is the first teaching award she’s ever received, adding she is especially honoured to find herself in such esteemed company.

“It’s very gratifying; I’m very humbled,” she told me recently via video chat. “I have so much respect for the people who’ve received this award previously, and for this year’s honourable mentions. It’s amazing that RGD is able to recognize education at this level. It’s super encouraging.”

Among the 2021 Design Educator Honourable Mentions is designer, ECU alum and head of the Graphic + Digital Design department at the University of the Fraser Valley Karin Jager (1985), whose colleague at UFV called her a “hard-hitter in the design-education arena. She dreams big and aims for the bleachers with every new challenge that comes her way.”

Visit to learn more about the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. Find Bonne on ResearchGate to read some of her many published articles.

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