LSU Architecture Students Help Recovering Addicts with Digital Storytelling Project

(Baton Rouge) – Fourth-year students in the LSU School of Architecture will embark on a special – and somewhat unusual project – this week when they attend a workshop on digital storytelling along with several recovering substance abuse addicts from Bethel Colony South, a rehab treatment facility in New Orleans that is a long-standing community partner of the School of Architecture’s Office of Community Design and Development (OCDD).

The workshop will be held Wednesday December 3 in the Atchafalaya Room of the LSU Union from 1-4 PM¸ and will be conducted by Dr. Jason Ohler, a professor and expert in the field of educational technology from the University of Alaska. The architecture students will take the information they learn in the workshop and use it next semester when they pair up with the recovering addicts and help them tell their stories in digital form on the Bethel Colony South website.

If it sounds like an unusual project for architecture students, it is. But it is an example of just how committed the College of Art and Design and the Office of Community Design and Development (OCDD) are to the idea of service learning. Bethel Colony South is a long-time partner of OCDD. They first teamed up three years ago to build houses in the flood-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. Since then, OCDD has helped Bethel Colony South start a small business that trains women to do home repairs, and architecture students have designed an addition to one of the buildings at the Bethel facility.

This latest project is a continuation of that partnership. It’s also a good lesson in professional development for the students, who are learning how to work with clients, figure out their needs, understand what they want in terms of the story, then designing it and putting it together.

“It’s mostly about learning to collaborate, which is really important in the 21st century as it relates to architecture,” says OCDD Director Marsha Cuddeback, who is also a professor in the School of Architecture. “It also teaches the students about diversity and the importance of civic engagements.”