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Sustainable Systems


Course Description

(as of March 2012)

Note: This course was formerly called Sustainable Energy Systems.

This course is a required first-year course that provides a foundational understanding of the scientific and social issues related to the design of resilient urban futures. An understanding of the constraints, challenges, and opportunities presented by the need to design products, systems, and services that are more socially, environmentally, and economically resilient is at the core of a Parsons education. This course is where that work begins. 

Complexity, diversity, adaptability are key aspects of all natural systems. However, our human behaviors, supported by conditions where art and design have had great influence, have built a complexity that is not sustainable and threatens our ability to be resilient. Designers of the 21st century are being challenged by complex problems that involve the use of technology to aid science and vice versa. In addition, mainstream media interface these problems with politics and everyday life. 

It is crucial, as both professional experts making decisions about materials flows and as citizens, that creative practitioners have a comprehensive understanding of the scientific process, from fieldwork and laboratory to policy formulation.

By combining sequenced field trips and lectures to locations around New York City to prompt discussions and context-based learning related to sustainability, ecology, and systems with studio-based labs where fieldwork and applied scientific methods will be translated into informed art and design work, we will begin to build a creative agency that supports diversity, adaptability, and resilience in the face of ever-changing conditions.


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