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Campus Engagement in Our Unit

Winning Opportunities of Service Learning

During this past summer UIUC School of Architecture graduate student Saloni Sheth, worked with Peoria PlayHouse Childrent’s Museum and University of Illinois Extension to consider redesign opportunities for the museum.

Seloni’s engagement with Peoria her hometown, came about has as a carryover from her spring semester project along work with University of Illinois Extension as part of the re]Imagine West Main - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture students design work to assist in developing and visualizing small scale interventions that could improve the West Main corridor. Seloni was a great fit for this service project , as the project had elements of both architecture and construction management. She very pleased to be able to give back to her hometown.

Definitions of “service learning” vary greatly. At the core of any definition of service learning, however, are two essential components. First, students must be actively engaged in learning and secondly, students must provide a service to the community.

Service learning combines academics, skills, citizenship and values. For many who participate, it provides experiences which help solidify the connections between the classroom and the “real world”. It is usually hands-on in application and often collaborative in approach.

University of Illinois School of Architecture students are usually eager to serve. Architecture students see it as an opportunity to:

  • put into practice what they are learning.
  • “give back” to the community.
  • network with other students and professionals.
  • prepare themselves for living in and supporting their communities.

The architecture profession has recognized the benefits of community service for years. The primary objective has not altered: “To create an awareness of and concern for the human-designed environment as it relates to the total environment among all education sectors, pre-kindergarten through adult education.”

Working with a team of local advisors, Saloni Sheth, a graduate architecture student at the University of Illinois, developed a proposal for a temporary exhibit space, and possibly related storage and/or furniture, at the PlayHouse Museum


For additional insights on the impact of this project, read the September 2018 Snapshot.


As a community and economic development educator, Kathie Brown worked with community leaders, government officials, volunteer groups, small business owners, and others to help communities become stronger and more economically viable. She focused on leadership and organizational development; local government education and relations; economic development strategies; participatory community planning/visioning processes; group process facilitation; collaboration and partnership building; public issue education; and understanding, using and developing data.

Prior to retirement in 2021, Brown worked with organizations and local governments to help them: (1) analyze and understand their needs, (2) identify alternative courses of action, (3) make informed decisions, (4) plan for the future and (5) evaluate their development efforts.

Kathie worked for Extension for almost 40 years, contributing to programs related to community health, digital literacy, STEAM education, and more.