This course investigates the emerging principles and triple bottom line of sustainable development-environmental quality, economic health, and social equity-as reflected in buildings, towns, and cities around the world. We will examine how communities impact and improve basic environmental quality variables such as air and water quality, food supply, mobility, energy sources and uses, and a sense of place. We will also explore a global array of innovative efforts at sustainable urban design, including land use and zoning strategies, alternative transportation models, water and waste management initiatives, green building, regional economic development, social equity planning, and ecological restoration. Through case studies and class activities, we will learn how various communities achieve the objectives of sustainable development through planning, design, public policy and education. We will also learn about assessment frameworks, such as “ecological footprints,” that can serve as tools for assessing the impact of various projects, programs, and policies. We will explore specific examples of sustainable buildings and settlements around the planet, with particular emphasis on communities along our route that exemplify innovative approaches to sustainability and demonstrate key course concepts.
Field WorkCountry: Germany
Day: 1 - Hamburg - Thursday, 5 September
For nearly twenty years, there has been much talk about creating more sustaining or ‘green’ cities, in terms of ecology, equity and the economy. Northern European cities and her citizens in particular, backed by strong economies, have demonstrated a desire to make the city more liveable and less demanding of natural resources at both small and large scale. As one of 15 different port cities that we will analyze and compare for their sustaining actions on the ground, Hamburg offers the opportunity to investigate an example of a city that sets the green bar at a great height. The field lab will set a standard model that we will follow for other field assignments in cities along the voyage. We will research and explore the programs set in motion by both public and private entities that demonstrate significant sustaining principles in the re-use of existing models and in forward-thinking, new developments. The object of this research is twofold: first, we have the opportunity to compare our fifteen ports of call for their brightest and best examples of sustaining urban strategies that are good for the planet and those who live on it, and second, to examine which of these examples might be good strategies to promote at home. The port city of Hamburg will be a rich field of examples to harvest, so the entire class will be pressed into service for evaluation. Other cities on the voyage will be researched and surveyed by two or three person teams based on a rubric that will use Hamburg as a baseline. Hamburg has an excellent public transit system of trains, trams, buses and bicycles that we can sample to move us quickly around the city to document various works. In a thoroughly 21st century city, we can test the accessibility of social media that may allow the group to physically split up from time to time, yet remain connected. The data and information we accumulate will be used to assemble the Field Lab Project. Field Lab Project Report: The class will work together to analyze and present information gleaned from the Field Lab in Hamburg. The class will break into groups as necessary to illuminate what was found on the ground, and to develop a rubric that allows methods of comparison between various cities that we will visit on the voyage. Grades will be based on thoroughness and rigor of the results and the metrics established by the group. Academic Objectives: 1. To review and analyze current international and national planning, policy, and design strategies to promote sustainable development. 2. To thoroughly understand the fundamental objectives of sustainable development as well as indicators and benchmarks for measuring successful implementation. 3. To examine sustainable development objectives through case study and direct experience. 4. To explore, on a personal level, what it means to live in a sustaining manner.