LA1001 Sustainability by Design

I’m pleased to share the news that my course proposal for LA 1001 Sustainability by Design was approved for Spring 2011. This course was developed in collaboration with many of my colleagues in the Department of Landscape Architecture and with the folks in the Sustainability Minor.

From the syllabus:

“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
– Albert Einstein

“The ruins of the unsustainable are the 21st century’s frontier.” – Bruce Sterling


Humans face a self-inflicted crisis of growing population, depleted resources, a changing climate, and toxins in the environment. Sustainability is the definition and the application of long-term solutions to the environmental issues that our planet faces. While individual lifestyle choices play a large factor in determining the environmental impact of our society, the built environment limits and controls many of those choices. This is our future, so what can we do in the Twin Cities to adapt?
Sustainability by Design will be a civic forum to explore how the Twin Cities region will adapt to climate change, depleted energy resources, and other environmental impacts. The course will provide an overview of how cities and places are designed, how the process of design shapes the environmental impacts that result, and the possible adaptation strategies to deal with a changing climate and shrinking resources. The purpose of the course is to provide students and our guests, a forum to engage in the decision making process regarding how to adapt the Twin Cities for a changing world.
The built environment is composed of landscapes, infrastructure (roads and utilities), buildings, and a wide variety of land-uses that encompass rural and urban places. Design is the process of imagination, evaluation, decision making, problem solving, and leadership that shapes the creation of places, things, and systems. The Department of Landscape Architecture is focused on the discipline of designing and creating evocative, meaningful places that sustainably integrate ecological systems with the built environment.

Engaging sustainability in the classroom and in life requires the integration of knowledge across traditional disciplinary boundaries within the university and society. The creation of the built environment is another endeavor that requires collaboration between many facets of society.
The lectures in LA 1001 will provide a broad introduction to the questions our society must ask if we are to become sustainable, while the exercises and recitations will provide space for personal discovery and creating solutions. While we will be focusing on the local exploration and application of changing the built environment, the course will provide a global context.
The Twin-Cities metropolitan region and the campus of the University of Minnesota will be our laboratory for defining sustainable places and exploring how civic engagement shapes cities.

Sustainability by Design is intended for the entire university community; there are no prerequisites beyond an interest in learning and civic engagement. While this is an introductory course, the subject is challenging and will require significant effort to comprehend the complex systems and to imagine possible solutions to these solutions.
The course is designed to satisfy the CLE Environment Theme for liberal education and is also the gateway course into the Sustainability Studies Minor (, the Design Minor, the Landscape Architecture Major, and the Architecture Major. As a liberal education course, you will explore the issue of sustainability from a wide variety of perspectives, including many that lie well outside the traditional disciplines of your major


So this is just one of the projects that has prevented more contributions to InfrascapeDesign this fall. Stay tuned for more news about new projects and for updates on LA 1001 including the guest list.


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