I teach a seminar on the ethics of social change in environmental design (ethitecture.wordpress.com), a freshman design studio, a senior studio for engineers, and a planning research methods lecture class. In the coming year, I’ll likely also teach an urban geography field course (where we’ll walk around Boulder and its environs) and a seminar on globalization and environmental design.
I really enjoy thinking about our responsibilities as environmental design students and professionals: What are the extents and limits of our power to affect change? How do we use our design and creative work as extensions of our ideologies? What are the paradoxes inherent in designing change? What are the assumptions we hold about the limits and merits of our work as architects, planners, and engineers? These are some of the topics I enjoy debating most with students and colleagues. I believe students--from Freshman through graduate students--can uniquely contribute to these debates given the opportunity to do so.
Ethics of Design for Social Change
See spring 2014 class blog at ethitecture.wordpress.com
This class is inspired by Professor Greig Crysler’s class: Architecture, Ethics, and Activism, at Berkeley. The following is an excerpt from the syllabus I’ve put together:
“Environmental design students and professionals work in communities close to home and around the world on projects that house refugee populations, reconstruct communities after natural disasters, improve safety and sanitation, and introduce the benefits of good and thoughtful design, with the aim of bettering the built environment and bettering people’s lives. Complexities inherent in communication, culture, finance, politics, environment, and geography all serve to complicate these efforts. As a result, activism in environmental design is mired in paradox but also holds much promise and is subject to a number of pitfalls.
As architects, engineers, and planners increasingly engage ethical and activist agendas, the historical and theoretical underpinnings of humanitarian work become central to how these professions position themselves in practice and education. In this course, students will investigate and think critically about the work of non-governmental and non-profit organizations, design firms and university-based groups, as well as the effects of policies that affect activism in environmental design at home and globally. We will inform our debates on current case studies with strong theoretical and historical foundations from readings on ethics, transnational activism, and humanitarian design, among other topics.”