Abstract – version 1.0

Many of the United States’ once booming industrial communities have been devastated by the migration of manufacturing out of the Northeast and Midwest. The cities of the US rust belt—spanning from Central New York State, through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois—are heading down the path to a bleak future. This thesis will focus on a case study of one such rust belt city, Utica, NY as a way to examine the unique past, present and future problems and opportunities of these communities. The concept of wicked problems will be used as a conceptual framework for the study and the research will take a holistic approach to framing issues and designing solutions. This study will use participatory design methods as a way of collecting data and employ scenario planning tools to craft alternative future scenarios. These scenarios will be the foundation for discovering design opportunities for the Utica area. The results of the study will include media-based narratives of alternative futures and recommendations and a timeline for implementation of design solutions.


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