MFA CD Curriculum
Photo above is of the reconstructed Cathlapotle cedar plank longhouse at Ridgefield NWR
Integrated Design: Lower Columbia River Ecosystems Summer Intensive
The natural and cultural resources of the lower Columbia River have progressively undergone change as a direct result of human occupation and especially so since EuroAmerican arrival. Densely populated for thousands of years by ecologically sophisticated and adaptive indigenous cultures, Ridgefield became a EuroAmerican agricultural system in the 1840’s and later, a wildlife refuge in 1960. Currently, resource managers at federal, state and local levels are challenged with designing and implementing management plans and interpretive strategies to maintain and restore desired natural resources. In addition managers must deal with ongoing changes such as the introduction or expansion of invasive species (e.g. nutria), the effects of the Bonneville Dam (completed in 1937 the dam has dramatically changed the flooding regimes of Ridgefield), and future climate change scenarios.
Through this course we will explore the following questions:
• How can design and systems thinking provide a common language to bring multiple worldviews and interest groups into a conversation about a sustainable future for the region?
• How did this place become the site we see today?
• What driving forces and constraints affect the ongoing evolution of this landscape?
• What management and design challenges does this place face currently and in the near future?
• How can paying attention to real landscapes inform the abstraction and representation of nature through various creative practices and in turn, what can these practices lend to management and design challenges?
Using the wetlands, prairies, savannas and forests of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge as representative of the greater Lower Columbia, this intensive will explore alternative management regimes and their implications for future natural / cultural resource scenarios within the context of continuous, accelerating ecological change.
COL 501 Collaborative Design Studio
Collaborative Design Studio gives students hands-on experience in working with clients, collaborators, and partners to formulate a project that must be client-centered. Each studio begins with a design brief and initial resources, moves to problems and challenges, ideation, and prototype solutions, and finishes with a deliverable(s). Design Studio briefs adapt to local, regional, and global opportunities, as well as faculty and student interests. Topics include design ethnography, product design, living systems design, redesign, participatory design, disruptive design, institutional design, video design, sound design, rapid prototyping, design bootcamp, and science/policy bootcamp.
COL 511 Collaborative Design Workshop
Collaborative Design Workshop offers students a chance to build specific skills in a studio environment. The workshop instructor brings expertise and a plan for experimentation that allow students to acquire skills, techniques, and methods of working. This workshop experience encourages collaborative and independent practice while supporting the individual student’s needs. Topics include design applications, design epiphanies, indigenous design, web design, game design, space design, mapping problems and solutions, brainstorming and facilitation, the pitch, grant writing, business planning, infographics, capstone, and project launch.
COL 525 Critique Seminar: Problems, Stakeholders, Urban Learning Lab
Critique Seminar introduces students to local, regional, and global environmental–social–economic (ESE) problems. Students present their work to each other in a professional manner, articulating the issues their work addresses while formulating criteria to evaluate the work and that of their peers.Discussions explore the issues and stakeholders relevant to students’ individual practices, potential projects, and portfolios. The course includes visiting artists and scholars, critiques with academic and industry experts, and off-campus trips to regional community stakeholders. During each seminar students work on developing their capstone project.
COL 526 Critique Seminar: Collaboration, Facilitation, Participation
In this Critique Seminar, experts from various fields introduce students to different models of collaboration, facilitation, and participation as they apply to local, regional, and global ecological–social–economic (ESE) issues and stakeholders. Students also explore how these models apply to their individual practices, potential projects, and portfolios. Students engage in research resulting in written, visual, and oral presentations. During each graduate seminar, students work on the development of their capstone projects.
COL 551 Applied Systems Thinking
In Applied Systems Thinking students examine social-ecological systems and regimes from a specific perspective: the roles of public and private individuals and organizations as agents of change. Seeking a systemic and critical understanding of the ethical basis for social activism, students discuss the successes and failures that current social-ecological regimes (“business as usual”) have had in providing for social wellbeing; students also explore the basis for considering nature’s wellbeing more broadly. The composition and relative stability of regimes, and the frameworks for understanding and assessing the effectiveness of social inquiries and interventions aimed at regime transformation are also examined.
COL 552 Critical Studies: Design Ecologies
Through lectures, discussions, and field trips, students in Critical Studies: Design Ecologies explore successful strategies for designing for complexity in Portland, Oregon. The instructor and guest presenters discuss iterative, generative, and transdisciplinary design processes as they relate to dynamic systems. Skills such as matrix mapping, creating cooperative networks, adaptive processes, and effective means of client engagement are demonstrated. This course explores successful strategies for creating solutions for diverse ecological, social, and economic issues. It also trains students to recognize design opportunities through system indicators in the world around them. Students develop their own design epistemology and tool kit for strategic planning.
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