Joel Pettigrew

Joel Pettigrew

2022–2023 SCUP Fellow and Business Development Manager
Shepley Bulfinch

SCUP Coaches: Pascha McTyson, Program Manager, Student Engagement, Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative; David McIntyre, Principal (Retired), VHB

Joel Pettigrew is a business development manager with Shepley Bulfinch, a national architecture firm that specializes in tackling complex projects in higher education, science and technology, healthcare, and urban development. He develops a national strategy for higher education, and science and technology. In his work with institutions, he focuses on student-centered design on campuses. Prior to moving into the architectural engineering and construction industry, Joel worked at multiple higher education institutions, including Emerson College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and The Ohio State University. His roles on campus included working in student unions and student life, event and conference planning, auxiliary services, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Joel received a BA in history from Texas A&M University, and an MA in higher education and student affairs from The Ohio State University.

SCUP Fellows Research Project

When City Parks are Your Quad: How Urban Campus Planning is Influenced by Student Safety and Wellbeing

Urban campuses are complex organizations tasked with ensuring student success and wellbeing while also navigating development and growth within an urban context where the campus can not always plan its own physical future. My research will explore how urban campuses are influenced by their surrounding cities, exploring growth, development, and planning through an examination of how student development theory interacts with planning principles in relation to student wellness and their sense of security.

A primary goal of this research will be to determine how urban campus planning principles can develop a sense of student wellness and security—moving beyond planning principles like Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)—and exploring design more informed by student development theory and an inclusive and equitable approach. Within their urban context, student security and wellness are paramount elements for student success, but how do these goals influence campus planning for the edge of campus and heavily trafficked campus spaces?

My research will also offer takeaways for all campus planners and higher education professionals, regardless of the campus location. While urban campuses experience a unique set of challenges, I hope that my research can also support the analysis of mixed-use districts or campus core planning at non-urban campuses. The density and urban edge aspects of this research will offer comparable takeaways for other professionals, and I will be sure to highlight this wider applicability.

I intend my research to advance higher education planning by reexamining the basis for urban campus planning decisions, informing the planning of the campus edge and core spaces with a focus on student wellbeing and a sense of security. How are urban campuses reconciling student space with public space, and the impact that has on a sense of security for the campus community? Without campus-enclosed grass quads on many urban campuses, how do campuses encourage a secure and equitable student experience in their development of public spaces?

Project Description

When I moved to Boston in 2012 and started working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in student activities, I became fascinated with how urban campuses interact with their surrounding cities. When I later moved to Emerson College, how these two campuses engaged the same urban area became a personal and professional exploration. I found that urban campus planning and the campus edge is informed by responses to constrained space demands, often without a fuller consideration of the impact on student wellbeing and community.

Student wellness and security are a specialized concern for urban campuses, where the city fabric is woven around the institution heavily influences how welcome or safe students feel on their own campus. These external influences bring a unique improvement to the collegiate experience, but can also be detrimental to feelings of security on campus if not planned for properly.

My research will investigate how campus planning principles are informed by theories around security, design for wellness, and urban campus planning. I would then bring an additional lens to those principles, examining how they interact (or ignore) with ecological student development theory and developing equitable and just community experiences for underrepresented or minority students on campus.

My focus on wellbeing and safety in relation to urban campuses is important for higher education planners. Many urban campuses are experiencing an increase of violent crime in their communities. Additionally, we continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. Students must feel safe on their campuses; how can campus design contribute to their sense of wellbeing, and security, and yet keep them connected and a part of their community? With the necessary increased attention toward student wellness, it is vital to explore how the urban campus edge and fabric can influence wellness and security as we reexamine our spaces.

Methodology & Rationale

Since coming to architecture from higher education and student affairs, I have been engaged in how architects talk about campus spaces. It is a different language from what I learned in my education and work in student affairs, but the goal and objectives are the same: how do we help students feel a sense of safety, belonging, engagement, and inquiry?

In my research, I will utilize ecological student development theories to explore campus planning principles in relation to the feeling of security on urban campuses. The work of Strange and Banning in “Educating By Design” (2001) and Kristen Renn’s 2004 work on “Campus Ecology and Environments” will be centerpieces for understanding campus spaces in relation to student engagement and belonging, enhanced by a wider slate of student development theories focused on racial and gender identity development. These theories will be complemented by and expanded upon by an exploration of urban design principles in conjunction with campus planning guidelines.

With a focus on wellbeing and security, I will also explore planning principles like CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), understanding its role on urban campuses. I will engage with students, staff, and campus planners on how these theories and principles interact with one another and explore if CPTED is equitable and just in developing a sense of security. The use of these theories that cross professional fields within higher education will develop a new lens of planning for the campus edge in urban settings, one defined by security balanced with student development.

This research will be explored through direct, in-person analysis on urban campuses – examinations of campus boundaries with cities, video walkthroughs of urban design elements present on campuses, and interviews with campus planners, student life professionals, and students.

In selecting campuses to explore, I want to mix both virtual and in-person research opportunities. Virtual research allows me to connect with staff and students from afar at a campus I would not be able to visit. I also want to ensure I’m utilizing in-person research, as this topic relies on examining the campus edge, its design and feel, and how the campus community and public interact with it.

I plan to focus on a core group of varied institutions that will be possible to visit over the next year, and will supplement with data from virtual interviews and research. Variety in campus types is vital, so selecting from community colleges, liberal arts institutions, specialized colleges like art and design schools, and major research institutions will allow me to explore these principles more in-depth. I will also ensure I’m analyzing a diverse set of student experiences, so explorations of Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs) and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will further enhance my research efforts.

Project Deliverables

My presentation at SCUP’s annual conference will delve into how campus planning for urban campus edges can be reconsidered from a lens of ecological student development theory to encourage a higher sense of wellbeing and security for students. I will explore practices related to security to examine their impact on wellbeing and equity, making suggestions for improvement or further opportunities for exploration to create a more just sense of security on campus.

I also plan to host a webinar panel of professionals and students from different campuses to talk through their lived experiences regarding wellbeing and security on urban campuses. This would add some qualitative understanding to my research directly exploring how security practices like CPTED impact student wellbeing on campus, as well as how professionals view the planning of the campus edge. This dialogue between students and professionals is necessary so that our field hears directly from those we are trying to serve and who are living through our planning decisions.

I am eager to make this research project a visual experience – with live social media engagements and video exploring these theories and practices in person so that planners from any institution can see how the campus edge performs in relation to student wellbeing. Whether through short TikTok videos or longer video interviews, I look forward to the opportunity to provide direct visual research to the SCUP community as an analysis of urban campus planning principles.
Implementation Plan and Preliminary Schedule

Phase 1: July–September 2022 (includes attendance at the SCUP Annual Conference, Long Beach, CA July 24-26, 2023)
Phase 2: October–December 2022
Phase 3: January–March 2023
Phase 4: April–June 2023 (Project wrap-up)
Phase 5: July–September (SCUP Fellows presentation at SCUP Annual Conference, Cleveland, OH, July 30- August 1, 2023 AND Written Summary due: September 30th, 2023)

Phase 1: July 2022–September 2022

-Develop a protocol to research current issues and publications around campus security and wellness and begin blending with applicable student development and urban and campus design practices
-Plan the list of campuses and professionals to research to begin understanding of how their campuses engage their urban environment and promote the sense of security and wellness within their student community

Phase 2: October 2022–December 2022

-Begin combining research with analysis of campus/urban engagements (campus plans, data, etc.)
-Conduct interviews with professionals and students on these campuses – may be in person or virtual/written

Phase 3: January 2023 –March 2023

-Complete a research analysis of student development theories through a lens of campus/urban planning principles, developing written materials for the 2022 conference presentation and final report

Phase 4: April 2023–June 2023 (project wrap-up)

-Engage in a series of live campus visits that explore the themes present in my research and analysis to better understand and analyze how that research developed
-Edit, update and improve my analysis utilizing qualitative data gathered from these live visits for the final presentation at SCUP 2022 and webinar afterward

Phase 5:

After my final presentation at SCUP Annual 2022, as well as the webinar and final report, I hope to take the next step in this research journey towards a masters or doctorate program related to this topic and the urban higher education experience. I look forward to the opportunity to blend my student affairs experience with gained knowledge in urban design and planning to become a better professional, contributing to our field further in these areas.