Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Intermedia & Photography

Committee Chair

Eve Faulkes

Committee Co-Chair

Joseph Galbreath

Committee Member

Kofi Opoku

Committee Member

Michael Sherwin


Social Design is a progressive field that continues to gain momentum across the nation and the world. Its value and validity is especially noteworthy when design is used as a vehicle to create positive change in today's society. Many rural communities lack the necessary infrastructures or resources to remain relevant in a 21st century world, and face unique sets of barriers to progress and creative problem-solving.;Effective communication, for example, is one area that design thinking can efficiently address, often generating collaborative solutions. Facilitating dialogue in the rural community requires special attention and planning. A carefully-tailored strategy of design interaction while communicating a message of positive change has great potential for allowing more open dialogue, greater levels of support and increased advocacy surrounding any local issue, challenge, or problem within such demographic populations. Properly applied design thinking has the power to act as a major catalyst in empowering smaller communities to find smart, sustainable solutions in building better, brighter futures for its citizens.;My thesis research was applied to a case study involving the efforts of the Friends of George Byrer Field (FOGBF), a grassroots organization searching for solutions to bring a state-of-the-art performance, athletic and fitness facility to Barbour County, West Virginia. Located in rural Appalachia, Barbour County has struggled to achieve traction with this initiative in past attempts due to barriers that rural communities often face. Two major efforts (a community collaboration event and the development of an engaging brainstorming kit) were devised by the FOGBF to create opportunities for open dialogue and establishment of a strong support system. This case study is designed to serve as a framework that can be replicated and adapted for other initiatives in Barbour County and similar communities that may face their own communication and collaboration challenges.