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Seeing, Making, Doing: Art + Community

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Seeing, Making, Doing: Art + Community

This course will explore strategies and methods for using art and culture to increase social capital (i.e. belonging) in communities. Students from a variety of disciplines will work independently and collaboratively throughout the semester to learn effective ways to engage communities, facilitate meaningful community experiences, and use art and culture to build understanding among diverse populations. The course will work in a variety of community scales, including the classroom, the College of Design, the ISU campus, and three rural Iowa communities to develop, test, and refine creative engagement methodologies. This course is a sponsored test-pilot for Rural Shrink Smart, an interdisciplinary team exploring smart population shrinkage in rural communities with a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. This proposal examines how increasing social capital in rural Iowa communities can mitigate the effects of current population shrinkage and prevent future decline. This course will use art as a strategy for increasing social capital, the impacts of which will be evaluated and monitored as part of the larger grant curriculum.

Course Topics:

• Asset-based Community Development
• Facilitation Methodology and Practice
• Community Capitals Framework
• The Importance of Social Capital and Belonging
• Creative Community Engagement Methods
• The Role of Art, Design, and Culture in Building Community
• Community Identity and Narratives
• Engagement Methods and Data Collection
• Defining and Measuring Success in Creative Engagement
• Event Planning and Project Management
• Social Practice in Art
• Sense Making Methodology
• Appreciative Inquiry – Community change
• Strategic Doing
• Ripple Effects Mapping

Course Goals:
• Upon completion of this course students will understand and demonstrate creative and effective community engagement methods and practices.

• Upon completion of this course students will have demonstrated the ability to plan and utilize diverse methods of engagement for increasing social capital.

• Upon completion of this course students will have demonstrated the ability to access, interpret, and communicate data through art and design principles and methods.

• Upon completion of this course students will have demonstrated the ability to partner with diverse stakeholders, students in different disciplines, and develop methods to measure community engagement impacts.

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

• Construct, apply, and complete community engagement methodologies with diverse stakeholders and disciplines in in-person and socially distant ways.

• Understand and distinguish different collaborative community facilitation methods.

• Demonstrate and improve oral/visual presentation skills.

• Identify effective precedents of community-engaged artists and projects.

• Understand and demonstrate methods to evaluate and present findings from community engagement practices.

Course Credit
  • 6
Iowa State University Innovate @ Iowa State
  • Civic Innovation
  • Social Entrepreneurship
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Partnerships for the Goals
Upload relevant imagery (prior student works or site pictures)
Will this course be cross-listed?


Days/times for the course

MWF: 1:10-5:20

Field trip locations

Elma, Iowa; Bancroft, Iowa; TBD

Field trip schedule


Suggested course fee

n/a - covered by National Science Foundation

Teaching faculty name(s)

Jennifer Drinkwater

All ISU Majors
  • Juniors
  • Seniors and graduate students
Maximum enrollment