Risk and Resilience Proseminar

The Risk and Resilience Proseminar provides MDes students in this concentration with an introduction to discourses on risk and resilience that intersect with key issues in built environment planning and design. The course defines ‘risk’ as conditions of vulnerability that arise from events – such as natural disasters and conflicts – and from structural, historical processes such as sociopolitical marginalization and climate change. In turn, our focus on ‘resilience’ will emphasize the built environment strategies that community, international and State actors engage with in emergency, developmental, and anticipatory contexts to mitigate and limit vulnerabilities. By tracing these types of relations between temporalities, societies and space, risk and resilience are considered to be dialectically linked as a set of problematics and responses, over time, in space, and activated by particular actors. In addition, risk and resilience form an operative discourse of rhetorical strategies aimed to define the most pressing problematics of a milieu, attract funding and mobilize communities. To explore these dimensions, course content will primarily draw from historical and contemporary readings in Anthropology, Architecture and Urban Studies, Cultural Theory, Development Studies, and Geography to help students develop fluency with key debates on issues of risk and resilience, and their nexus with the built environment.

Format: The course is structured as an intensive reading and discussion seminar, with class meetings once per week for three hours. Throughout the term, guest lectures from experts from within and outside the GSD will contribute case studies on specific key vulnerabilities (e.g. climate change, violence, coastal erosion, infrastructure, etc.) to help students develop connections between texts and contexts.

Evaluation: Weekly contributions to class discussions and a final project.

Course enrollment is restricted to students in the MDes Risk & Resilience concentration, unless an exception is granted by the instructor.