Designing Alternative Futures: Climate Change as Possibility
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Constructed Environments
Department: Constructed Environments
Course Number: PSCE 5080
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Design
  • Ecology
As a dynamic and wicked problem, Climate Change is affecting all dimensions of life on Earth. Human imagination invented the modern era with all its countless artifacts. But for many of us, the modern era's basic assumptions have been exhausted. We can no longer maintain that humans are separate from other natural systems nor that we humans can control and predict the behavior of these systems. We need new forms for new habits more closely aligned with Earth's systems. Design thinking and making are creative processes that can help transform climate-caused, disruptive planetary shifts into life-generative systems. Knowledge gained from your own lived experiences of climate change is a place to begin. We will also explore the detrimental effects climate change is already having on psychological and social well-being and on the Earth itself. Are there indications that people are altering their basic assumptions about the world because of the harmful consequences of modern patterns of living? Can these signs be the basis for designing new systems at all scales for new habits -- for designing new ways of being? This seminar gives you the opportunity to invent new forms for life's promises. We will investigate the ways in which future-based design can open proactive responses to global dislocations in personal, social, cultural, and ecological patterns. In addition to current protective measures, such as building barriers and marshes to shield waterfront lands from inundation, design can model new ways of living and working that navigate the changing daily and seasonal cycles within which we live. The Fall 2014 United Nations Climate Summit in New York City is "aimed at catalyzing action..." We will follow its proceedings as an up-to-date means of understanding how political, scientific, health, financial, civic, media and other professionals and groups are responding. This scrutiny, coupled with your lived experiences of climate change, will be the framework for our proposing to the December 2015 Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Paris, new models of designed systems that can contribute to altered life conditions.
Course Open to: Degree Students
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: All university graduate degree students; upper-level undergraduate students with permission.


Open to Graduate students.