Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Art and Design

First Advisor

Cigdem Akkurt


Interior designers are well suited as activists for change, undertaking the multitude of social issues plaguing our democratic society. On a daily basis designers are directly engaged with the world around them, inspiring dialogue in order to create the physical spaces and places where others live, work, and play. As our nation is facing obstacles and difficult issues pertaining to aging, the economy, and health care, designers can offer diversity and fulfill a multitude of responsibilities including as social scholars and educators. Inspiring and empowering the next generation of interior designers is a challenge educational institutions face. Therefore, the creation of responsible designers, who tackle difficult issues, will require educational institutions to actively participate in the social issues facing communities around the country, in particular the aging baby boomer.

Academic service-learning is a teaching strategy in which students are engaged in authentic activities, where course curriculum is applied to address the needs of communities in order to enrich the educational experience and encourage lifelong civic engagement (Furco, 2001; Howard, 1998). Service-learning has often been accepted as a teaching tool among educational institutions yet widely criticized as a research methodology (Bailis, 2001; Furco, 2001). Research is an integral part of all service-learning projects, including aging in community, since the solutions discovered for community problems should be derived from research (Enos and Troppe, 1996). Therefore, service-learning and research should be aligned to increase faculty and student use of evidence-based design decisions.

In 2006, Partners for Livable Communities found less than half, 46%, of American communities have begun planning to address the needs of the aging baby boomers. In response to this finding, this study will explore the implementation of a well defined service-learning philosophy to address the need for appropriate housing options within rural communities. This visual study will inspire leaders and members of the community into lasting partnerships with educational institutions, to address the evolving and challenging community social issues surrounding the aging baby boomer.


Copyright Owner

Lisa Marie Bates



Date Available


File Format


File Size

180 pages