Paper Presentation: Building Community: A Preliminary Evaluation of the Intersection of Diverse Educational Programs

This paper was selected for virtual presentation at the Fourth International Conference on the Constructed Environment hosted by Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal.

Abstract:  Historically, southern Illinois has been socio-economically diverse. However, in past decades, the region has suffered from systemic loss of industry leading to widespread poverty and civic decay.  Although certainly not unscathed, Southern Illinois University [SIU] has weathered the downturn better than many surrounding communities.  While university students can be perceived as occupying a privileged position, regionally, young adults are struggling to maintain their basic human needs.  Thus, as the rate of decay grows, so does the potential for disconnect between the university and the region.  In response to these issues, a relationship is being developed between the School of Architecture at SIU and the Delta Center in Cairo, Illinois.  The relationship, fostered by a United States Department of Labor grant, is focused on developing a regional YouthBuild program in the city of Cairo.  In this program, two groups of students (university and regional youth) have come together to design and build a series of low income homes for the citizens of Cairo while concurrently attempting to fill their own distinct educational objectives. This paper explores the emergent conflicts and connections occurring between these students and these programs as they endeavor to help rebuild the fabric of a local community.

Co-authors: Laura Morthland, SIU + Shannon McDonald, SIU