2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Light Step: Designing for a Sustainable World


Fall 2011, Winter 2012 and Spring 2012 quarters

Karen Gaul (F,W) anthropology , Anthony Tindill sustainable design
Fields of Study
anthropology, architecture, consciousness studies, cultural studies, environmental studies, field studies, international studies and sustainability studies
Preparatory for studies or careers in
sustainable design, anthropology and community development.

The lessons we need for sustainable and just living already exist among many indigenous, rural and urban peoples around the world. How people construct the structure and feeling of home, or shape and contain that which is significant in their lives varies from culture to culture.  In this program we will explore practices of current and past cultures in terms of construction, energy use, technological development, subsistence practices, and equity to understand how people have lived relatively sustainably in various environments. We will consider the impact of increased technological complexity, resource extraction, production and waste streams of the industrial revolution. We will also investigate ways contemporary cultures around the world are responding by resuming, reclaiming or reinventing low-tech lifeways of the past, and/or embracing high-tech solutions of the future.

The program will offer hands-on projects and theoretical perspectives in sustainable design in order to apply sustainable solutions in real-world situations. Students will have an opportunity to work with local communities to help meet design needs. Project possibilities may involve sustainable solutions on campus or in the greater South Sound community. Design projects will be developed within a context of community-defined needs. Through intensive studio time, students will learn drawing and design techniques, fundamentals of building, and skills in using a variety of tools.

We will read ethnographic accounts of various cultures to understand the sustainability and justice implications of their practices. Students will have the opportunity to conduct their own ethnographic studies. An introduction to ethnographic research methods and an inquiry into critical questions in the field will help equip students to shape their own field research (in local or distant communities).

Fall quarter will include the beginning of an anthropological journey to study various cultural expressions of sustainable and just living. We will learn ethnographic methods and begin to set up ethnographic projects exploring examples of sustainable solutions locally and in more distant settings. Basic approaches to sustainable design will be introduced, and projects will be formulated. Winter quarter will include implementation of design projects and community projects, and launching of ethnographic research. Spring quarter will be a period of data analysis in ethnographic projects, and completion of design projects. The program will also include experiments in sustainable living on a variety of levels.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$100 per quarter for entrance fees, field trips and supplies.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 23rd, 2012 Karen Gaul is not teaching spring quarter; enrollments lowered.
January 6th, 2012 Signature required to join winter quarter.
April 29th, 2011 The description has bee updated.
November 30th, 2010 The class standing of this offering has been corrected.