Friday, March 9, 2012

Hopeful things: undergraduate class assignment

Initially, I ask students to identify a few projects in the city that they think are interesting, important, and hopeful.  By the term “hopeful” I mean projects that are environmentally well conceived, but are directed optimistically towards the future.  This does not mean that they must be “new” projects, but they should point us towards the future in a bold way.  Although there are lots of interesting green designs [see the City’s Green Technology Center, for instance], the projects that most interest a student may be an innovative art piece, an exhibit, a sustainable food kitchen etc.  They are encouraged to think broadly.  

The following prompts may be useful in generating a list: is the project optimistic, urban, environmentally well conceived, resilient, aesthetically pleasing, ethical, engaging and useful for people, liberating and cultivating of the wild, feasible, embracing of human and non-human diversity, non-sentimental.   In many cases the projects are conceived or run in an interdisciplinary manner.

After a class discussion on potential projects, students select one and they write a summary of this one project.  The summary will contain each of the following elements:

1.         Project description detailing the mission, vision and history of the project, showing how the project meets the criterion we have established.

2.         Map and photographs showing where the project is located and what can be seen.

3.         A list of personnel associated with the work.  It will be very useful if the student can make contact with the people affiliated with this work, and ask them to describe the project for you in a way that allows you to enrich section 1 above.

4.         An assessment of the significance of the project.

This project was developed by Dolores Wilber and Liam Heneghan. 

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