Curriculum for Climate Agency:
Design (in) Action
Not all 1.5°C global heating scenarios are created equal. From the current ecogenocide of the global south to the 2020 Gini Index of global inequality, the climate crisis is an urgent one of development, equity and justice. The construction industry is responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions and architecture and other design professions have willingly, or unwillingly, sided with an uneven development that has consequences expanding from food insecurity and nutrient deficiency to imposed displacement due to collapsing ecosystems. Countries and communities that are least responsible are feeling the impact of the decisions made on the opposite side of the world ‐ a trend which will exacerbate in the future as new portions of our shared earth industrialize. As we move out of our current global health emergency and confront the next very real crisis of climate alteration, should architecture’s agenda be to rally forth in action, or can architecture construct a new type of agency in the processes of inaction? It could be argued that inaction in one field can allow for new actions to be taken in other fields and disciplines. The international lockdown, brought forth by our shared global pandemic, has allowed us to witness the effects of a pause on carbon emissions – how do we use this opportunity to not return to business as usual, but instead inform a new normal of climate order? As design educators, we must think critically about the role that the next generation of global architects will play in addressing the inequalities to which architecture as a profession contributes. Our considerations need to range across the atomization of all of our material acts ‐ at the scale of the detail, material specification, building form as well as the design of cities and regions. It is imperative that we as professional educators recognize our epoch of the anthropocene and act as agents on behalf of the globe and its citizens.
Consequently, it has become the principal responsibility of architectural education to generate the new pedagogies and paradigms needed to better equip the profession to confront the climate crisis. We, as cross continental educators, must collectively address our global emergency as well as the opportunity to circumvent architectures’ role in perpetuating it. These pedagogies require deconstruction of architecture’s master narratives as much as a ground‐up envisioning of its future. In order to change the course of architecture’s curricula, we must re‐assemble our core values by asking critical questions concerning our future contributions to our climate. What will we study – which policies, ecologies, histories, materials, theories and social movements will pave the way forward and what ontologies will we leave behind? How will we study ‐ how will our existing tools, techniques, and knowledge gained from successful social, political and philosophical movements aid in our ability to decrease architecture’s impact? Where will we study ‐ in digital classrooms or in living labs that extend from earth’s water and hard crust to the atmosphere? With whom will we study ‐ how can the design disciplines invite more fields, disciplines, genders, races and ethnicities to join us at the design table towards the creation of spatial justice?
The June 2021 teacher’s conference, Curriculum for Climate Agency, as a collaboration between the EAAE + ACSA, welcomes a range of formats for presentation and communication, from full‐paper and project based presentations, to workshop‐based interactions, to graphic, visual and/or textual analyses of projects that respond to the 10 scholarship themes.