Fight or Flight: Space Colonization and the Future of Landscape Architecture

This seminar aims to examine the future of the profession of landscape architecture in relation to the two forces that are likely to shape it well into the future: an increasingly uninhabitable Earth, and the evolution of humanity as a space-faring species.

We will review the historical and largely parallel tracks of space flight and colonization and that of environmental protection and conservation. One is about FLIGHT, the search for territory and resources beyond the confines of home, region, nations, and planet; the other about FIGHT, the counterforce to stay in place and “tough it out” in the face of peril, namely climate change, loss of biodiversity, zoonotic pandemics, and the disruptive advent of artificial intelligence.

Through readings, videos, lectures, and class discussions, the seminar will examine the Flight-Fight dichotomy as dual survival strategies and pose critical questions as to what such strategies might means to the mission and practice of landscape architecture.

Spacefaring will be addressed first: how it has existed in our imagination and how it has been translated into programs and associated technologies. How concern and care for the natural environment has paralleled the advent of space flight under anthropocentric and biocentric impulses will follow. Lastly, the seminar will examine how the flight-fight interlacement might—or should—affect the practice of landscape architecture, i.e.: how closely should it be aligned with a survival agenda, on Earth and/or in outer space.

Seminal sources will be used to gain insight on the above questions: books, articles, movies, and documentaries. Lectures, presentations by invited guests, and discussions will supplement the research. The product will be a bibliography of the source material, and annotated timeline of the Earth-Space narrative.