Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Department:

Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Advisor/Chair:

Ole R. Sleipness

Co-Advisor/Chair:

David Anderson

Third Advisor:

David Evans

Abstract

Over several decades, USU’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (LAEP) Department and Extension specialists have engaged Utah’s rural communities through several design-based outreach activities. These activities are intended to benefit both community partners interested in learning how design can positively impact the community in tangible ways, and students, who are given the opportunity to engage with real-world projects. This study documents, evaluates, and assesses outcomes of community engagement projects undertaken by LAEP Extension to better understand the program’s impact over time and come up with approaches that will enhance the impact of future community engagement projects.

This research develops a framework of indicators for assessing the impact of the selected LAEP Extension projects. Selection criteria ensures representation of an extensive array of project typologies and settings undertaken by LAEP Extension. Selected projects’ impact will be thoroughly assessed through detailed physical site examination of selected projects, administration of surveys/questionnaires/interviews with knowledgeable individuals for each project, evaluation of relevant economic data, and analysis of projects’ relationships to other local factors.

Expected results include the assessment of issues related to preserving records of Extension projects, recommendations for establishing a model framework for assessing future projects’ impact, and structuring processes of documentation and evaluation for advancing research in landscape architecture, community engagement, and service-learning. It is also expected that this project will illuminate the way each project connects with Extension design engagement, subsequent project funding, and practitioner involvement.

Targeted outcomes include a greater understanding of the impact of design on communities’ physical, economic, and social conditions; an increased capacity among community partners to apply design to issues that they identify in their communities; and greater collaboration between USU LAEP and Extension. Outcomes also include developing a model framework that can be used to assess, evaluate, and document the various impacts of university design engagement activities at both USU and other land grant-based design programs by evaluating past design Extension projects and future design engagement activities.

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