At Metropolitan State University of Denver, there is a need for greater representation of the institution’s diversity, particularly in regard to the Hispanic community. In order to earn the distinction of being a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the university must have a full-time enrollment of at least twenty-five percent Hispanic students. This designation allows the university to qualify for more grants and funding that benefit the entire student body.
In 2007, Metropolitan State University of Denver launched its HSI Initiative and convened a task force to identify strategies to increase Hispanic full-time enrollment and support Hispanic students’ educational success through degree attainment. This initiative by the HSI team of the university called upon the Community-Based Design course of Spring 2017 to create a campaign bringing awareness of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s journey reaching HSI status and celebrating the diversity on campus.
The student team took this challenge and conceptualized, designed, fabricated and hosted a three-day interactive installation held at the location of highest foot traffic. This two-sided installation, designed and built by students, had one side of interactivity and another that was educational and intended to bring awareness of the Hispanic Serving Institution status that MSU Denver was close to obtaining.
As a way of celebrating diversity, this interactive installation breaks down any stereotypes one might have regarding another culture. The installation encourages passersby to engage with their community by stringing each peg they identify with while literally weaving their identity and characteristics within others.
This installation creates a safe space for all to participate, understand and celebrate diversity and inclusion. The process gave the opportunity for the designers to talk with each participant about the importance of Metropolitan State University of Denver attaining HSI status.
The students were responsible for building the installation and this responsibility was full of learning experiences. As design students, they didn’t have access to the campus wood shop, so they built the entire installation in one of the campus cafeterias during the weekend prior to the installation date.
The three-day interactive installation created a greater sense of community, celebration of diversity and inclusion and educated the passersby on campus. The student team also increased awareness of the number of undocumented students on campus and the importance of celebrating diversity and inclusivity on and off campus.
Kelly Monico (professor, mentor); Daisy Corso (lead designer, fabricator); Jacki Peketz (lead designer); Arodi Ponce, Gabby Pantle, Kiersten Townsend (designers)
Daisy Corso, Jacki Peketz, Arodi Ponce, Gabby Pantle (fabrication); 303 Mad Graphics (vinyl)
"A playful yet thoughtfully interactive visualization of the complex range of emotions shared across the school’s culturally diverse campus."
"I would stand at this piece for hours following along the threads. I love that it becomes a data visualization and a story all in one."