Community Engagement Workshop: Making Artifacts that Educate and Empower

The premise of participatory design and planning is that people should have a say in how their buildings, neighborhoods, and cities are shaped. But people are obviously more likely to participate when they’re interested in—and informed about—the means by which buildings, neighborhoods, and cities are shaped, as well as the consequences of opposing outcomes. Towards that, this class invites you to conceive of, design, and fabricate educational engagement artifacts that help members of the public understand and make decisions about complex built environment-related issues of your choosing. Engagement artifacts could take the form of physical things like interactive models, board games, or window displays; printed materials like graphic novels, newsletters, or fold-out posters; or digital materials like videos, websites, or apps. The source for the built environment-related issues you explore could be issues you are working on in other classes, issues you are curious and want to better understand yourself, or issues that one of our project-based partners have asked us to consider. (This class can be taken as a project-based class.) Depending on the issue you address, the audience for your artifact—the “members of the public” referred to above—could be very specific (for example, underrepresented youths in a specific geography), very general, or somewhere in between. A major goal will be to learn how to make engagement artifacts that meet people where they are at, that are user-friendly and fun, and that appeal to your target audience’s aesthetic sensibilities. Class time will consist of group crits, precedent studies of innovative educational engagement artifacts created by designers and planners, and seminar-style discussions of key readings in this critical but often overlooked aspect of community engagement.