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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Postgraduate Course: Environmental Design: Materials, Ecologies, Futures (DESI11109)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers the timely and crucial opportunity to think about design in relation to a world undergoing huge environmental change. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, and bringing together work in design and art with that in political ecology and the environmental humanities, the course will equip students with a strong, critical and questioning understanding of issues related to what things and relations we design and make today and in the future, and how we go about designing-making them.
Course description This is a course in which students will be accompanied by a variety of thinkers and doers, writers and designer-makers, as they consider the question of how people's relationship with and understanding of the environment, in turn fashions and impacts upon environments, peoples and organisms. It is a course that will invite students to consider the fact that the benefits and effects of environmental change are unequally distributed in the world, and it will provide them with a sense of the way in which global processes connect social 'actors' at all scales (from the very local - even molecular - through regional, national, international to global). Richly nuanced ethnographic accounts of life and designs in different parts of the world will furnish the course so that students are able to build up a sense of environment and design that includes the non-Western and an idea of the many possible different ways in which people work or might work with materials, different ecologies and different imagined futures to shape the world around them.

Each fortnight, lectures, making activities, close-readings and student-led discussions will allow students to think through a theme that further interrogates the issue of what environmental design is/could be and how we (as designers but also as those that partake in the consumption, use and discourses of design) might pursue it.
The four themes are:

1. Experience and the Environment: Design and the Senses, Making and Consumption
2. Stories of Stuff: Labour, Social Justice and Design
3. Materials and (New) Materialism: Bodies, Resources and Pollution
4. Environmental Futures: Time, Hope and Possibilities in Design

Learning and teaching activities will be based on a repeating model of four different sessions exploring one of the four sub-themes. They include:
- Lectures (designed to provide overviews of the sub-theme and introduction to the key interdisciplinary literature and design precedents, including use of various creative means of communication such as excerpts from ethnographic film and documentaries, fiction/creative writing, animation, art and design);

- Facilitated close-reading groups where students and tutor read and analyse, in detail, a short key text on the sub-theme (e.g. Bennett on New Materialism or Crutzen and Stoermer on the Anthropocene);
- Workshops where the theme is explored through simple making activities (examples might include, repurposing/upcycling a post-consumer object, drawing, papier-mâché copies of things, or thinking through a material such as clay);
- Student-led discussion sessions where the sub-theme and its theorising is debated in relation to the/their practice of design.

In addition to the contact time, a significant number of directed and independent learning hours will be expected of the students. Some of these hours will be expected to be used by students to create weekly blog postings where they creatively respond to and reflect upon the material being worked through in class. At mid-point in the semester, these blog posts will form the basis of the formative assessment. At the end of the course the summative assessment will ask students to discuss a theme from the course in conversation with the work of one thinker writer/practitioner featured in 'Environmental Design'.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 5, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 5, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment:«br /»
100% Coursework. «br /»
«br /»
Formative assessment is provided at the mid-point of the semester, and consists of the student's blog posts to date. These blog posts are written individually by students and are to reflect upon and summarise the course content week by week. In addition to this there is continual formative feedback and feed-forward throughout the semester through the group workshops, peer reading and discussion groups.«br /»
«br /»
Summative assessment is by submission of a 3500 word critical and illustrated essay at the end of the course (around week 11). The essay will require students to consider the questions and topics of the course in relation to their own practice/discipline, and to do so specifically in conversation with one thinker introduced by the course. «br /»
This component will be worth 100% of the student's grade and will be marked against the LOs. In assessment, each learning outcome has equal weighting (1/3).
Feedback Formative assessment is provided at the mid-point of the semester, verbally at the assessment point and in written form within 15 working days, in response to students' blog posts to date. In addition to this there is also continual verbal formative feedback and feed-forward throughout the semester through the group workshops, peer reading groups and class discussions.

In response to their Summative Assessment of the critical essay, students will be given thorough written feedback, via LEARN, as well as their grade. This is communicated to students within 15 working days of their submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Situate their practice and that of designers more widely in relation to the global environment, to the political ecology of design and to some of the key literature and thinking that we can use to consider issues of environmental design, environmental change and political ecology.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to critically reflect on their personal position and potential future direction within the wider environmental context of their practice, and to link this to critical reflection on their discipline's direction and their own position as a citizen and maker of the world we live in.
  3. Communicate their emergent and critical readings (of text, film and activities), reflective evaluations, analyses and responses to thinking and work on the course topic, and to do so orally, visually and in writing, using a variety of creative strategies.
Reading List
Alexander, C. and J. Reno (eds.) (2012) Economies of Recycling : The global transformation of materials, values and social relations. London; New York : Zed Books.
Bennett, J. (2010) Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press.
Braungart, M. and W. McDonough (2009) Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. London: Vintage.
Gabrys, J., Hawkins, G. and M. Michael (2013) Accumulation: The material politics of plastic. London ; New York : Routledge.
Hornborg, A. (2001) The Power of the Machine: Global inequalities of economy, technology, and environment. Walnut Creek, Calif.; Oxford: AltaMira Press.
Ingold, T. (2000) The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge.
Papanek, V. (1995) The Green Imperative: Ecology and Ethics in Design and Architecture. London : Thames and Hudson.
Wood, J. (2007) The Design of Micro-Utopias: Thinking Beyond the Possible. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The topic, but also the structure of this course is designed so as to help equip students for life and practice in a world that is increasingly cognisant of the impact of human society and its designs. The course will encourage critical thinking, inventiveness, social and political awareness, and ethical responsibility, whilst helping to hone communication skills (spoken, written for a number of different audiences, and visual), confidence and creativity.
Course organiserDr Rachel Harkness
Tel: (0131 6)51 5753
Course secretaryDr Eadaoin Lynch
Tel: (0131 6)51 5740
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