Service-Learning as Strategy in the Study of Aging and Environment: Developing Generations of Socially Responsible Designers

By Lisa M. Bates.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As interior design expands to improve the lives of all, and not a privileged few, designers will be able to play key roles in the shaping of our society and the improvement of the built environment for the masses. Of the many obstacles facing our nation, the aging of the baby boomer generation is one issue where interior designers can have a large impact. Designers are positioned to make a substantial mark on the needs associated with aging and the home environment by understanding how people’s needs change over a lifetime and how the home environment can compensate for aging difficulties.
There is a demand for educational institutions to become more actively involved in the community. The adoption of service-learning as a method of community engagement and scholarship has been found across the country’s educational institutions. Educational institutions have the ability to foster change in policies and practices by creating viable partnerships to allow design to benefit a larger proportion of the population across the country.
This paper details a proposed interdisciplinary service-learning course to address the findings from the Lamoni, Iowa Elder-Friendly Community (EFC) Design study identifying the need for appropriate housing options for aging in place. This proposal focuses on educational interdisciplinary partnerships and the overall format of the proposed course, to enrich the educational experience for students while also addressing the issues facing the surrounding communities, through a mutually beneficial service-learning partnership.

Keywords: Aging, Community, Social Design, Service-Learning, Baby Boomer, Interdisciplinary

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.345-360. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.155MB).

Lisa M. Bates

Lecturer, College of Design, Interior Design, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA

Higher education should not merely be preparing a student for a specific career; higher education should motivate students to become responsible active citizens. Design education has the ability to foster social awareness within students and inspire students to use their expertise for the greater good. The desire to leave a positive impact on the world led me back to the academic design profession. Teaching is an amazing method of influencing lives and encouraging the next generation of designers to become inspired by the world around them.


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