Proseminar in ECOLOGIES: Interrelated, In-between, Dynamic

"Ecology is not simply a project of the natural sciences. Ecology is an overarching idea for a set of conditions or relationships with political, economic, and social implication."
         – Chris Reed and Nina-Marie Lister, Projective Ecologies, 2013.

The Domain of ECOLOGIES engages the relationships between the living and mineral world, between science and technology, between infrastructural and ecological networks, and between human society and the non-human world that sustains us.

The role of the proseminar is to introduce students to the range of individual and group research presently being pursued by GSD faculty, across Harvard schools, the Loeb Fellows, and researchers and practitioners from many disciplines. Concurrent with the research presentations will be collaborative workshops on selected themes. Both will form the context for students to create an abstract for a design-research topic they may pursue in their subsequent work.

The workshops topics: Culture and Society, Communities and Action, Resources and Metabolic Flows, Geographies and Settlement Form, Biosphere and Atmosphere, and Research and Projections will be undertaken by student teams and provide source material for the entire cohort. Culture and Society understands the relationships between traditional, modern, and future models of settlement, landscape, and economy. Communities and Action studies the theory and practices of collective society and seeks the regulatory and policy frameworks to achieve a just, resilient, and temperate future. Geographies and Settlement Form studies changing spatial structures and population dynamics as they are driven by climate change. The consequences of world-wide urbanization and land use change have altered land, water, and air. In Biosphere and Atmosphere, the planetary scale of the biosphere is the arena of transformation in which these changes can be engaged. Research and Projection contrasts the skills and methods of research and art and craft of communication and dissemination.

Readings will span from established texts, recent scientific research papers, and current critical journalism. As students build their research topic they will be expected to contribute to bibliographic materials reflecting the cohort’s specific interests.

The proseminar builds on the foundational work in the first iteration of ECOLOGIES. It is a venue for addressing questions of resource depletion, food and water insecurity, habitat and biodiversity loss, global policy and development disparities, regulatory misalignments, social and cultural upheaval, and inequities in wealth distribution and public health outcomes. The proseminar will focus attention to the interlocking challenges of climate change, and the potential to increase the capacities of living and mineral systems implied by regenerative design and development.

For each student, the results of our research, discussions, and workshops will coalesce into a project abstract developed through preliminary, mid-term, and final review stages.

Enrollment is limited to students in the GSD MDes Ecologies Domain.