Design Dialogues

The purpose of Design Dialogues was to provide opportunities for youth served by schools and organizations in the River Bend and King-Irving neighborhoods to share knowledge about their community spaces and learning places that could help guide the development of several ISU projects in those contexts. Katherine Richardson Bruna from the School of Education, Kimberly Greder from Human Studies and Family Development, and Jane Rongerude from Community and Regional Planning obtained funding in relation to their respective ISU 4U Promise, Juntos, and River Bend Neighborhood Planning projects through a Fall 2014 ISU College of Human Sciences Collaborative Intramural Seed Grant.

As a means of generating Design Dialogues knowledge, youth create individual and collective “maps” reflecting their perspectives of place-based assets and challenges. ISU 4U Promise postdoctoral research associate, Carla A. McNelly, and ISU Communities Field Specialist, Glennda M. Bivens, led the implementation of the Design Dialogues process at Children and Family Urban Movement (CFUM) in fall 2015 and at Callanan Middle School (CMS) in fall 2016. This involved overseeing interdisciplinary teams of Iowa State undergraduates who were enrolled in a special course supporting their involvement as small group facilitators for Design Dialogues youth.

In addition to informing Iowa State efforts in the River Bend and King-Irving neighborhoods, insights gained through the Design Dialogues process has been shared with community and school partners to promote broader awareness of youth’s experiences.


The Design Dialogues team would like to acknowledge the following collaborators’ contributions to the Design Dialogues project:

  • Angelica Reina – Post Doctoral Research Associate, ISU 4U Promise
  • Jacqueline Nester – Graduate Student, Community and Regional Planning
  • Dontreale Anderson – Program Coordinator, CFUM
  • Carla Dawson – Program Coordinator, CFUM
  • Claudia Gonzalez – Program Coordinator, CFUM
  • Emmett Phillips – Program Coordinator, CFUM
  • Andrea De Santiago – Undergraduate Facilitator 2015, School of Education
  • Josie Laska – Undergraduate Facilitator 2015 and 2016; Research Assistant, School of Education
  • Stacy Mears – Undergraduate Facilitator 2016, Human Development and Family Studies
  • Caitlin Rolfes – Undergraduate Facilitator 2015, School of Education
  • Tanatswa Tavaziva – Undergraduate Facilitator 2015, Community and Regional Planning
  • Frankie Torbor – Undergraduate Facilitator 2015, Community and Regional Planning
  • Courtney Towles – Undergraduate Facilitator 2016, School of Engineering
  • Sherrell Williams – Undergraduate Facilitator 2016, School of Journalism

New Curriculum Guides Communities on Engaging with Youth

An Iowa State University project to involve Des Moines youth in discussions of what their communities need has turned into an easy-to-use curriculum for communities anywhere to implement.
In 2014, faculty from across campus formed the Design Dialogues project, which sought to identify barriers and enablers to Black and Latinx youth’s academic success and college attainment. This grew from research that shows schools and learning play an important role in community well-being, but are often left out of neighborhood revitalization efforts. learn more>>

Download your own copy of the curriculum below!
Introduction to the Design Dialogues Curriculum: A Process for Thinking Critically with Youth about Community and Learning

To learn more about how to implement Design Dialogues in your own community, please contact Dr. Katherine Richardson Bruna at 

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ISU 4U Promise

1218 Lagomarcino Hall
901 Stange Road
Ames, Iowa 50011-1041