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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Undergraduate Course: Environmental Design: Materials, Ecologies, Futures (DESI10122)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) 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 the use of
various creative means of communication such as excerpts from ethnographic films 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.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is open to ALL STUDENTS and enrolments are managed on a first come first served basis until the course is full. The course will be open to enrolments from Monday 28th September at 10.00 am. Please sign up for the course through your own School (they will advise if this is done via your PT, SSO or Teaching Office). We do not currently keep a waiting list.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  49
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course has 1 assessment component:
Blog of 11 Weekly Illustrated Posts (400 words per post) worth 100%, due at end of the course, around Week 11.

Blogs will be marked against the three Learning Outcomes. Each of these learning outcomes has equal weighting (1/3).

Two of the 11 posts will be specified: one as a short annotated bibliography on a topic of the student¿s choosing (for the post in Reading Week, Week 6); and a second as a final reflection on their learning from the whole course (for the last post in Week 11).

Feedback Formative Feedback
Formative feed-forward is provided at the mid-point of the semester in response to students' blog posts to date, in short written form and within a time period that is clearly communicated. In addition to this there is also continual verbal feed-forward throughout the semester through the group workshops, peer reading groups and class discussions.

Summative Feedback
In response to their Summative Assessment of the full blog, and as per University regulations, students will be given thorough written feedback, via LEARN, as well as their grade. This is provided to students within a time period that is clearly communicated.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key literature, practice and thinking that designers can use to consider issues of environmental design and environmental change, and an awareness of why it is important to do so in this contemporary moment.
  2. Critically reflect, with reference to literature, upon both Design's history and direction in relation to the environment, and their own position as a citizen and maker of the world we live in.
  3. Fluently communicate their analyses and reflections upon - and engagements with - the course topic, 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 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 secretaryMiss Barbara Bianchi
Tel: (0131 6)51 5736
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