A New Framework for Practice

The purpose of this course is: 1. to enable students to better understand the landscape of contemporary practice within a larger social, economic and political context; 2. to equip students with analytic frameworks and methods that will enable them to better navigate career directions and choices; 3. to exercise the ability to envision and critically assess potential trajectories for practice. Prior to the current global financial crisis, architects, landscape architects and urban planners practicing in the major economies of the world enjoyed an unprecedented quantity of work. The design professions were no different than most other business sectors in becoming complacent about the demand for their services and ever-expanding prospects. So much so that, with some notable exceptions, business and organizational models of even the most renowned design firms became skewed toward production at the expense of critical thinking about the fundamental purpose of their disciplines. The failure to grasp the real significance of our professions\’ purpose, ethics, opportunities, and unique competences became an abrogation of a larger responsibility to critically define and diligently exercise our professions rather than taking the path of least resistance by simply surrendering to forces of the market.Students will take on the task of investigating and documenting both existing and emergent frameworks of practice. Participants will develop specific narratives about practice and how they map into social/cultural, political and economic/business landscapes of different cities, regions and countries, as well as global critical infrastructure (including key technologies), and \”long waves\” of change (e.g., demographics, climate, etc.). We will then use these narratives to critique existing generic models of practice in terms of their disciplinary underpinnings, practice and business strategies, organization and operations. The instructor will provide foundational concepts about contemporary practice as a starting point for the class, as well as coaching for the development of term projects. Course format: Lectures, class discussions and case study.Requirements: Consistent class attendance and participation; completion of class assignments; term project and final presentation (individual or small group).Students enrolled in this class are expected to be able to collaborate, conduct research, develop ideas critically, and integrate content from different disciplines. Prior work experience is preferred but not a pre-requisite.