Course Guide: 2001 SyllabusCourse Description
In this interdisciplinary course, we will investigate the complex question of how to create effective city spaces. Using a series of case studies from the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment, we will explore what makes the city "work": how innovative people have redesigned the places in which they live, work and play. Physical space, in turn, helps to construct the inner lives of its inhabitants -- their dreams, thoughts, fears, anger, desires, attachments. These feelings are best recorded in works of art. As we discuss the model community projects, we will analyze stories, poems, essays, paintings, and music that engage similar issues. We will look at the overt and hidden connections between people and nature, people and each other, and people and their multiple, interlocking histories within the city. We'll also consider how to make the city a safer place and how to empower citizens to make positive changes in their neighborhoods.Required Text
Because this course combines materials from both the humanities and social sciences, all reading materials will be made available to you in a xeroxed booklet (and in supplemental xeroxes, as needed) and/or on the course website.Course Requirements and Evaluations
Reading Responses. Most weeks you will be asked to submit a response to one or more of the readings assigned for discussion. Your reading responses should be a cross between a journal entry and an essay, an informal but thoughtful exploration in which you respond to the text. To prepare your responses, consider the following questions:
Your reading responses should be thoughtful and show careful reflection. Avoid summaries; instead, explore ideas. Feel free to ask questions and attempt to answer them in your response.
Reading responses should be 2-3 pages double spaced and are due at the beginning of class. If you miss a class but wish to submit a reading response, you may send it via email.
Classwork and Participation. We will begin each class with a short project related to that week's topic. You might, for example, be asked to free write about an issue raised in one of the readings, to make connections between two or more texts, or to explain how one of the ideas in the texts relates to your neighborhood. There are a total of 13 class meetings; you will be responsible for a minimum of 10 in-class projects. In addition, we ask that you participate regularly and thoughtfully in class discussions and group projects. The course website will also offer opportunities for class participation.
City Story. You will be asked to create a city "story" - a poem, short story, video, photo essay, collection of profiles, etc. In the course, we discuss many imaginative works, now is your chance to generate an original piece, to share your private vision or narrative of city life. Before generating your project, you will write a short proposal defining what you plan to do. When the projects are complete, you will each present yours to the class to be discussed and admired.
Methodology Project and Case Study. Your group project will be to form a team of 3-4 to conduct your own case study modeled after the Rudy Bruner Awards. Your job will be to develop a deep understanding of an effective New York City metropolitan area "urban place" -- how it came about, how it affects its community, how and why it succeeds, how it might be further recreated to further improve city life. Once you select your site, your team will conduct a study of the space and work with an instructor to evaluate the physical design of the space; the political, financial, and overall planning processes that took place to create the space; and the effects (both actual and intended) of the space on the community.
Below is a tentative course outline. We will do our best to stick to this schedule, but please note that this syllabus is subject to change. You will be notified in advance of all changes.