Setting Expectations & Requirements for Engaged Projects

The Sam Fox School encourages community collaborations, particularly those that: (1) fill gaps that would not otherwise be addressed by professional practice; (2) provide valuable learning opportunities to students; (3) and support faculty practice and research. We seek to support collaborations with communities historically underserved by art and design.This document helps outline the expectations and requirements for these collaborations.

In addition, we strongly recommend that all curricular community collaborations have a written agreement that outlines the expectations and details of how you will work with your partner. This document also outlines possible agreement formats.

Blue Pages: Setting Expectations & Requirements for Engaged Projects


Consider the type of project you are undertaking using the criteria below. Each type of project has a different set of expectations.

Framework describing engaged initiatives.

No Direct Engagement

  • Connection to a place or community limited to field trips or site visits.
  • Minimal interaction with organizations, institutions or individuals.
  • Minimal intention to share or publish work to broader, non-academic audience.


  • May or may not have a real site or partner.
  • Professional community is not likely to address issue.
  • May be initiated by faculty or community partners.
  • May draw attention to a question or opportunity.

Informing Practice

  • Working with a real site or location.
  • Has a community partner who may implement a related project.

Intended to be Built

  • All criteria of Informing Practice.
  • An immediate likelihood of implementation or construction.

Built or Installed

  • Has a physical manifestation that is installed off-campus, even for a short time.
  • May or may not involve students in documentation, fabrication, or installation.

The following requirements and tools have been established to support engaged projects and ensure oversight, risk management, and expectation setting.

Is there a specific site?

  • Requirements:
    • Clearly communicate roles to students and community
    • Label student work
  • Tools:

Is there a specific partner?

  • Requirements:
    • Clearly set expectations with the partner
  • Tools:

Will this eventually be built?

  • Requirements:
    • Engage professionals in review process
    • Clearly establish boundaries of WashU role in project
  • Tools:

Will this built now, by another professional?

  • Requirements:
    •  Include licensed professionals on your team who will execute project
  • Tools:
    • Project Agreement (contact OSEP for examples and to assess needs).

Will this built now, by faculty?

  • Requirements:
    • Faculty must hold appropriate licenses in Missouri, or be in partnership with licensed professional
  • Tools:
    • Contract or agreement
    • Consultation with Office of the General Counsel and Risk Management to confirm liability and insurance. Contact OSEP or Research Office to coordinate
    • Notification, and potentially approval from Director and/or Dean

Will this built now, by students (aka design/build)?

  • Requirements:
    • Students must receive appropriate training
    • Consultation with Director and Dean
    • Signed contract required before start of fabrication
  • Tools:
    • Contract or Agreement for the Commission of Artwork
    • Administrative approval from Director and/or Dean

A note on international projects: All international projects that have a specific partner or are something to be built eventually or beyond must go through a project review process to ensure agreements, contracts, and scopes of work follow local laws. Contact the director of your college to begin.

The remainder of this guide outlines the details of types of agreements. 


For simple collaborations, an email or a Curriculum Collaboration Project Proposal document can be used to outline your expectations.

What’s a Simple Project?

  • No money is exchanged
  • Duration is one semester or less
  • No physical artifacts are installed
  • Includes most Advocating, Informing Practice, and Intended to be Built projects

Establish Basics of Collaboration
The Curriculum Collaboration Project Proposal document outlines expectations such as:

  • Project objectives
  • Responsibilities of each group
  • Timelines and key dates
  • Resources required
  • Clarification of copyright and University policies such as disclaimer of warranty

How to Use
Download the template document, and complete it based on your conversations with your partner. The Office for Socially Engaged Practice can review. Give your partner a chance to review the document. To be sure you’re on the same page, consider meeting in person or on the phone to review each point!

Development of a Curriculum Collaboration Project Proposal takes 3-5 weeks.


Contact the Office for Socially Engaged Practice to proceed!
Some projects are a bit more complicated, but are not quite design/builds. A Project Agreement should be drafted for these projects. Project Agreements must be signed by the Dean or Director.

What falls into this category?

  • Working with a for-profit organization
  • Waiving student’s IP or copyright rights
  • Transfer of funds or joint application for funds related to the project
  • Commitments beyond one semester
  • Any engagement that may require a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

What does not fall in this category?

  • Design/Builds or installations (see next section)
  • Initiatives covered by Sponsored Projects Accounting — contact the Sam Fox School Research Office
  • Initiatives that meet simple project criteria

How to Use

Contact the Office for Socially Engaged Practice to develop a Project Agreement. Once a draft has been created, review with your partner.

Development of a Project Agreement requires 4-6 weeks. The final document must be signed by the Dean or Director.


Contact the Office for Socially Engaged Practice to proceed!
All off-campus design/builds or installations must have a contract drafted and reviewed by multiple stakeholders, including the Office of General Counsel and the Dean, and must be signed by the Dean or Director.

What falls into this category? 

  • Any installation project within a course, such as a design/build
  • This includes all Built or Installed projects

How to Use
Prior to pursuing a design/build project, speak with the Director about your intentions, and connect with the Office for Socially Engaged Practice to lay out a timeline and plan.

Typically, design/build projects will include a Curriculum Collaboration Project Proposal for the design portion of the project, followed by a contract once the design has been approved.

Development of a Contract takes 2-4 months.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA)

Partners may ask you or your students to sign an NDA as a stipulation to collaboration. NEVER sign these agreements without having them reviewed beforehand. Contact the Office for Socially Engaged Practice for more information.


Including the following disclaimers in your syllabus and on all final work.

Syllabus Disclaimer Text
“Work produced in this studio or seminar is creative and exploratory work to benefit students’ growth as designers. If the faculty or administration determines that the completion or implementation of student work, by law, requires the participation of and/or authorization by a licensed professional, the faculty conducting the project will seek professional participation. It is your responsibility to clarify to parties benefiting from your work that you are a student and not a licensed design professional.”

Final Work Disclaimer Text
“Work included in this document was produced by students in [course name] [course date]. This work was produced under the supervision the course instructor [instructor name] [instructor contact information]. The projects and final products may not be as comprehensive as would be expected from a similar report prepared by a professional. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, everything provided by Washington University including, without limitation, all technical material, advice, information, reports, data, and results, is provided “as is” and without any warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. Unless otherwise indicated, authors retain the ownership of all works they create. Please see the Copyright Agreement for additional details.”