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Center for Engagement and Community Development

News Features

Graduate Students Design Community Plan

An exemplary example of student and university engagement can be found in the Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning at Kansas State University. Two graduate level classes are currently involved with assisting the city of Lindsborg, Kan. in updating its comprehensive community plan.

"Lindsborg is a good example of engagement because it is a small town that is surviving against the odds, many, if not most, rural Kansas towns are losing wealth and population but Lindsborg appears to be holding its own," said Keller.

The classes working on this engagement project include Community Plan Preparation taught by professor John Keller and Housing and Development Programs taught by associate professor Larry Lawhon. The project consists of 27 graduate students working to provide a planning product for a local community in need.

"This project has allowed students the opportunity to work with a small Kansas community and participate, firsthand, in a housing condition survey and develop a housing needs assessment using existing data combined with concerns from community residents and local housing providers," said Lawhon.

The graduate students began this project at the start of the 2012 spring semester by meeting with the community to understand its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that should be considered when making the comprehensive plan. In addition, the students analyzed existing housing, and addressed housing diversity, housing affordability, and future housing demand.

"These types of projects were started to give students the opportunity to work directly with a willing community and gain actual experience with the process of civic engagement and making city plans," said Keller.

The Lindsborg Project is mutually beneficial to both the students and local community involved. The project provides Lindsborg with a visual image of housing, existing housing conditions, and locations where housing improvement is needed. The students get the opportunity to learn how to develop a housing needs assessment in a real world situation. Every spring semester a community like Lindsborg is picked to be the client for the class project.

The city of Lindsborg was eager to participate in this year's project. The city will now have a plan on how to accommodate its increasing population and continue forward with a successfully planned community.