Universities and Colleges have never been more“diverse.” Yet, some students report lack a sense of belonging primarily among first-generation (working-class) & non-white graduate students. In classrooms, residence & community town halls, students voiced feeling unwelcome on campus and attributed these feelings issues related to Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality & Ability. How might we use art & design thinking to better prepare all learners for the need of tomorrow by reimagining higher education? Inspired by a desire to achieve, what Harvey & Soja (2010) coin spatial justice, minoritized students at an elite institution use design thinking to (re) imagine campus culture through community driven placemaking. Our work tells the story of how students at an elite graduate school of education began to (re)-claim space through the production & prototyping of artifacts & community engagement to (re) define spaces of belonging. What can we learn from students about campus culture, belonging, and the reinvigoration of student activism?
Powered by Human Centered Design Thinking, we examine Campus Culture, Diversity & Belonging in Higher Education by engaging students in the process of Social Practice Placemaking for campus spatial justice. Human Centered Design posits that problems can be solved and that those closest to the problem possess unique insights into its solution. Social Practice Placemaking is a community driven multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces & emphasizes art & community engagement.