About the Erasing Boundaries Project

The Erasing Boundaries Consortium

Erasing Boundaries represents the work of a consortium of educators, students and community partners from the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning interested in furthering the pedagogy of service-learning, and community engaged teaching/research. The core group consists of faculty from the Hamer Center for Community Design at Penn State, Department of Landscape Architecture of SUNY - ESF, Department of Planning of Hunter College, and Department of Landscape Architecture of Cornell University.  The Erasing Boundaries website is currently hosted by the HAMER CENTER FOR COMMUNITY DESIGN at Penn State University.  The mission of the Hamer Center for Community Design aligns with the undertaking of the Erasing Boundaries Project, making the Hamer Center an ideal host for the Erasing Boundaries project website.

Erasing Boundaries Project

Erasing Boundaries strives for the following goals:

  • Deepen our capacity to understand and embrace the pedagogy of service-learning while becoming more effective in our interactions with communities.
  • Encourage new alliances, partnerships and dialogue between our disciplines and the communities with whom we work.
  • Address the ethics and obligations informing academic-community engagements and the best ways of engaging students in critical and reflective thinking about uncomfortable and charged issues of race/ethnicity and structural inequality.
  • Prepare society-ready graduates to encounter and understand the unfamiliar, engage the world and participate as responsive and responsible citizens and professionals.
  • Critically strengthen our pedagogy by integrating service, teaching and research.

Boundaries: Erasing, Expanding, Acknowledging, Engaging

Planning, architecture and landscape architecture educators have long met at the boundary between academy and community in order to provide nascent designers with understanding of the realities and conditions shaping environmental decisions and development. Meeting at the academy-community boundary aims to serve the needs of communities while enabling the discovery and creation of knowledge and discourse effecting the theories and practices of the design and planning disciplines. But, meeting at the boundary has had its limits for both the academy and the community realms. Educators remain bound to academic and professional learning goals, college time frames and disciplinary territory while relying on traditional educational pedagogies suited to their learning goals.  Students practice professional planning and design techniques but lose opportunities for critically interrogating their professions approaches, and the complex contexts and forces impacting community planning and design. Communities, as recipients of “service,” gain planning and design products but often experience a lack of power to conceive, shape and direct the projects and processes affecting them.



  • Syllabi section is coming soon.
  • Documentation and evaluation of service learning activities by design and planning programs was...
  • In the Works: A proposal for an awards program to recognize excellence in service-learning teaching...