Faculty Spotlight | February 2016
Service Learning Courses:
ARCH 600: Special Topics in Architecture: Participatory Design Practices
ARCH 680: Building with Intelligence: An Introduction to Sustainable Design
ARCH 802: Urban and Community Issues
Primary areas of research: Sustainable Design; Community Design; Recycled-Content Architectural Products
Professor Criss is able to bring focus to engagement processes, public interest design and healthy community concepts through teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in architecture. Through service learning opportunities, the work serves to catalyze the means to create an architecture that serves the greater good. The endeavor requires that we think beyond the singular architectural object and develop deep, long-term, loose-fitting principles to guide the work we do as architects; developing strategies that make the architectural object the right fit, for many people, for a long time. Good design is enduring design. Shannon explains, “design and architecture students can bring innovative design-thinking strategies to projects that involve nonprofit organizations, civic leaders and neighborhood citizens while supporting their social mission.” In order to be effective, this premise requires collaborative thought and work, where students identify and examine ideas driven by their empathy for others’ needs and their own natural curiosity to explore and offer new insight to a given problem.
As a co-investigator, her work has been able to effectively serve Lawrence and Kansas City communities through the Mobile Collaboratory (http://kumocolab.org)—a mobile classroom that has recently won numerous design awards. Her work has been published in PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America and in Good Deeds, Good Design, Community Service Through Architecture published by Princeton Architectural Press. Through externally funded research projects that incorporate design courses, she is able to engage disadvantaged, urban neighborhoods in Wyandotte County through a community outreach center she co-founded called Dotte Agency (http://www.dotteagency.org). Shannon believes that by meeting people where they are, “these real-world experiences enhance the student perspective on what can be achieved when working with students from other disciplines and also with community insight as a guide to plausible, well-designed solutions.” Shannon is a strong advocate to help students see their role as agents to connecting communities with design that promote environmental sustainability, social equity and community resilience. Professor Criss is proud to have served as the Faculty Fellow for the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility for the past three years.