Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize immediate applicability can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore issuing, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”
From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis—especially as it intersects with calls for environmental and racial justice—can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society in the midst of a global pandemic as it continues to grapple with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.
This proposal is related to a multi-year Buell Center project entitled “Power: Infrastructure in America,” which seeks critically to understand the intersections of climate, infrastructure, and architecture. Objects of intense political, social, and economic contestation, technical infrastructures distribute power in both senses of the word: as energy and as force. Concentrating on the United States but extending internationally, “Power: Infrastructure in America” opens overlapping windows onto how “America” is constructed infrastructurally to exclude neighbors and to divide citizens. But infrastructures can also connect. Organized in a modular fashion as an open access resource for learning, teaching, and acting, the contents of the project website—power.buellcenter.columbia.edu—enable visitors to better understand the complex webs of power shaping our lives and the lives of others. It is in this spirit that the prize aims to contribute to the development of intersectional pedagogy on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society” in America today. Change begins with connecting the dots.
Up to five proposals will be selected by the jury for eight thousand dollars in cash prizes and two thousand dollars in travel support to present the winning course proposals at the ACSA109 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO. To receive the cash prize and travel support, winners must demonstrate viability for the course at their host institution within two years of the prize’s distribution via a letter from their program’s head administrator. Developed syllabi of winning proposals will be published on both the ACSA and Buell Center websites.
Submissions will be accepted through an online interface beginning July 2020 & must be received through the online submission site by October 14, 2020.
The final submission upload must contain the following:
Course proposal (three pages)—The course proposal should consist of a title, course description, a list of selected readings or other sources, and a work plan for course development and implementation. Proposed courses must be new, or significantly reconfigured if already taught. Please make proposed revisions clear, if the latter.
Faculty bio—If multiple faculty are involved, include all (entire bio submission not to exceed two pages).
Letter of support from the head administrator of the architecture program (one page).
All materials should be submitted in PDF format, with no more than six pages total.
The Course Development Prize is open to faculty at all ACSA member schools. Faculty from Columbia University are not eligible. Courses that have previously been recognized in the Course Development Prize, will not be considered. Courses submitted, but not selected are encouraged to resubmit; however please make note of significant changes to the course proposal.
A jury drawn from the Buell Center Advisory Board will review the submissions and determine award winners. Special consideration will be given to proposals that include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting.
Online Submission Site Opens
October 14, 2020
March 12-14, 2021
ACSA109 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO
Architecture, Climate Change and Society Course Session
Founded in 1912 by 10 charter members, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association of over 200 member schools in several categories. These include full membership for all accredited programs in the United States and government-sanctioned schools in Canada, candidate membership for schools seeking accreditation, and affiliate membership for schools for two-year and international programs. Through these schools, over 5,000 architecture faculty are represented. In addition, over 300 supporting members composed of architecture firms, product associations and individuals add to the breadth of interest and support of ACSA goals.
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