Wichita State University (KS) takes placemaking seriously, as “a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces,” according to WSU’s Placemaking page. “Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.” 

Led by a desire to foster “lingering longer,” the university hired Kristin Beal as their placemaking and special projects manager to bring her experience and enthusiasm to campus. Described as “an arts advocate, administrator and culture producer,” Beal says that “almost all ideas, materials, formats and venues are in play when it comes to using art as a way to make the campus a place to enjoy and explore,” according to WSU News.

Art projects, such as the Wulip Garden she worked on with her ARTS 211: Intro to Community & Social Practice students, are one part of WSU’s placemaking efforts. The garden features 500 individual, oversized yellow and black blooms made from chicken wire and bamboo that have been installed along the banks of a campus pond. Beal is also looking to connect existing shows, talks, exhibits and more, getting students involved and incorporating faculty research into placemaking.

“Placemaking is about creating an attachment to space,” Beal said. “There are many ways that’s done. Colorful furniture. Swings and hammocks and murals and all of that. Anything that makes somebody feel like this is their place is placemaking.”

Beal’s placemaking efforts are part of the grant-funded approach to the university’s strategic goal of empowering students to create their own campus culture and experience.

Find out more about campus placemaking efforts, as well as many additional engagement opportunities within the pages of our NEW Student Engagement 2023: 50 Campus Initiatives to Motivate and Engage Today’s Students guide.