2014 Sustainable Development in Red Hook and Beyond
The Sustainable Development in Red Hook and Beyond Practicum will investigate why “development” is not necessarily an unfortunate reality. Properly regulated and controlled development patterns are essential for positive economic growth, increased revenues for the maintenance of vital services, reinforcement of community identity, preservation of productive farmland and open spaces, and the protection of cultural and natural resources. Locating potential development in “priority growth” areas allows for community benefits and demographic inclusion while protecting crucial and irreplaceable resources. Properly designated and designed priority growth areas, integrating walkable residential neighborhoods in or adjacent to commercial centers, must also be considered and planned to balance the use and protect the natural resources they may affect. Providing quality drinking water, removing generated wastes, revitalizing and expanding mixed-use residential/commercial districts, identifying and supporting local community groups are essential, and required, aspects of a well planned resilient community.Course website
2013 Urban Sanctuary: Parks, Gardens, and Nearby Nature
Urban places can often be full of danger, garbage, and stress. In order to function happily and efficiently, people need places of escape, and they often find refuge in what little green space is available—gardens, parks, “abandoned” lots, or even the individual trees on their streets. This course will explore the practical implications of environmental psychology, a field that studies people and their relationship to the world around them, with a focus on personal and societal well-being. What impact do “green” spaces have on crime, school test scores, happiness, physical well-being, and a number of other seemingly unrelated social issues? How much (or how little) “nature” do we need to have an impact? How can we shape our environment to suit our cognitive needs? Students will investigate community, hospital, and meditation gardens; street trees and parks; and lifestyle choices, all in order to develop projects that use environmental psychology to solve urban problems.
2013 Opportunistic Architecture: The Social Art of Building
This was an applied course that involved students in multiple stages of environmentally sustainable and cost-effective design, using a real-world project scheduled for completion in 2014. The challenge was to develop effective classroom and creative co-working spaces on the Bard campus, based on a design strategy using repurposed shipping containers. The final result should be wired and adapted for innovative digital teaching methods and flexible enough to serve multiple functions. The class included readings, online research, and team projects that addressed specific elements of design. Students worked in collaborative teams to research funding mechanisms and business plans; best practice in pedagogical design; and creative design for low-cost, ecologically responsible, and highly practical furniture and fixtures. Students met with the architect in charge of the Bard project, consulted with experts in various related fields, and produced both individual papers and team-generated proposals.
2013 Food Practicum
Over the last 30 years, food has become ever present in our daily consciousness. Spurred by celebrity chefs, the rise of food media, health issues, and an increasing awareness of the production system, food is taking on new meaning as we think about how we connect to what we eat. This leads us to consider questions about the cultural, economic, political, and ethical characteristics that underly this system. For instance, how is food a part of our identity? What methods are used to produce our food? How is it being distributed? Who has access? Our objective in this course is to experience and think about these concerns, resulting in the development of a heightened awareness.
2012 Fallkill Practicum
The complexity of the contemporary landscape imbues places with multiple meanings. A site can have great wealth whether cultural, historical, environmental or economic, or it can be a void that has long been forgotten. In this course we are going to both physically and mentally engage in a unique conversation about how the landscape becomes present. How do people see, think and know about a place? How does a site go from being nothing to something? What are the implications and impacts of this transformation?