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Document Type

Research From the Field

Abstract

This project merged experiential learning, a service project, and one discipline’s accreditation requirement for a human-centered design curriculum to engage students in designing for different user groups. The project followed a semester where students were required to engage with the community they were designing for. Ten service hours were required as a part of the course to familiarize the students with the venue and its residents of their local Veterans Affairs hospital. Upon the start of the subsequent semester, students requested further interaction with the veteran population they had come to know. As a means of exploring programming, a studio project was modified to fulfill their request, allowing them to further engage with the veteran population they had served through exhibit design. Though the studio course did not have an official service-learning course designation, by the end of the semester and, at the students’ direction, their project transcended the traditional mold of service learning by evolving organically based on experiential outcomes. By its end, the course’s objectives were met through the production of a full-scale, professionally designed museum exhibit honoring the veterans the students had come to love during their service experience. The exhibit was displayed numerous times before it found its final resting point in the VA hospital lobby. This engagement experience demonstrated that perhaps a more student-driven approach to engaged scholarship opportunities in the design disciplines could have transformative value for both learners and community members.

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