Working Landscapes: Natural Resiliency And Redesign

Ecological principles and their application to design and planning will be emphasized.  Topics will include understanding human impacts on natural systems through engineering and design, their consequences, and the use of ecological principles and methods of landscape design and planning to achieve natural restoration, resilience, balance, and sustainability.  Exploration of new approaches to design and infrastructure at regional scales will include stormwater management, hardened coastlines, sediment and toxics management, marsh and wetland restoration, alternative renewable energy development, reclaimed water and restored natural hydrology, and leveraging the efficiencies and effectiveness of restored natural systems to aid in the control of flooding, remediating drought, and controlling heat island effect.  Additionally, using restoration as the basis for design, students will be introduced to the potential of incentivizing change through generating profits.  A science field trip into wetlands acquired and protected by the Army Corps of Engineers on the Charles River will be used to highlight the principle of protecting and restoring nature as a climate resilience strategy.

The course is designed around providing the opportunity to apply these approaches, principles, and methods to student-selected landscapes around the world, working in class “lab” presentations to explore options and solicit input.  By identifying and then using heavily altered historic natural systems as their guide for landscape design, students will develop a restoration aesthetic that builds resilience to climate and leverages capitalism to incentivize change.  Students will also learn to develop strategies for using legal and regulatory frameworks, agency initiatives, and advocates to get projects built.

Though not a prerequisite, Working Landscapes will prove quite useful to students interested in taking Making Environmental Markets during the Spring semester.  Markets will examine existing environmental markets like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Washington DC’s stormwater trading, as well as the creation of a new market, Blue Cities Exchange, where the use of restoration approaches and methods are the basis for water and pollution trading and preparing for climate change.