Hilary Walrod, Associate Professor of Graphic Design + Digital Media, Colby-Sawyer College
Supported by two rounds of funding from the Davis Educational Foundation Innovation Grant, our college recently developed the Sustainable Learning Initiative at Franklin Falls: an experiential learning opportunity for our students to explore, design, and develop sustainable solutions to real and evolving community needs in the nearby city of Franklin. The scope of potential student involvement ranges from a full major (our new community-based B.S. in Sustainability Studies) to a single project – whether within a course, as a capstone, or as an internship. To facilitate this community/college partnership, we partner closely and share a downtown ‘storefront’ with PermaCity Life, a newly-formed nonprofit organization that aims to balance preservation and progress through permaculture, bringing sustainable revitalization efforts to our state’s smallest and poorest city.
As a design educator, I have had the privilege of being involved in this initiative from the ground up. Therefore, I have been able to contribute design perspectives, processes, and products through various phases and in various roles: as a member of the grant-funded faculty/staff team that developed the initiative and its accompanying curriculum, as the designer of the identity system for the initiative and the storefront, as a graphic design internship faculty sponsor, and as a faculty collaborator for pilot community-based projects in my Information Design and Identity System Design courses. My students, collaborators, and I alike have learned immensely from our early interactions and endeavors in this new hub. I will share our partnership and curricular frameworks, our best practices to date for community-based collaborations, and our visions for future possibilities.