20th Century pedagogical foundations of design have proven insufficient to prepare students for the complexity of practicing in the networked world and dealing with the dual crises of climate change and peak-resources. Instead, we need to emphasize interdisciplinary collaboration, active-learning teamwork, and service-based community learning as the core of a 21st Century curriculum. Depending on the level of the class and the students, my emphasis shifts from introducing critical thinking to challenging students with complex projects that require sophisticated synthesis, scenario forecasting, and design methodology.
In the design studio, analysis and performance modeling alone are insufficient for creating successful places or guiding the process of sustainable design. Mapping and indexing of temporal flows and latent forces are central to how system thinking can emerge into a poetic place through an iterative/multi-scalar process. If buildings and cities are to become functional eco-technological systems, then developing an appropriate language for place is required to fulfill the complex and sometimes opposing design demands. In the formulation of my studio briefs, I pursue the integration of ecological systems into the built environment and creating multifunctional urban landscapes, to actualize eco-cities and living buildings that are the goals of sustainable design practice.
Requiring ‘critical questions’ about readings has proven successful for diverse cohorts to develop deeper understanding of the texts and to inform discussions. The use of multi-media informs my emphasis on narrative for both design and research projects – I’m excited to see how video making can expand engagement and visual comprehension in introductory courses. Altruism and camaraderie are instilled my classrooms, by enabling students to ask questions and assist their classmates in a non-competitive environment.
Serving the students, the program, the mission of the university, and the design professions requires being a team player with both tactical and strategic perspectives. Saving our planet from the ravages of our technological society is not about serving egos, but about being willing to sacrifice for the greater good to assist the most people and ecological systems.
I seek to germinate citizen-designers with a passion for lifelong engagement of social, economic, and environmental issues. Cameron Sinclair wrote: ‘Design is the ultimate renewable resource. Together, we can continue to build a better future.’ This is the essence of why I teach.