Category Archives: sustainability

Join Pratt’s 9th Annual Sustainability Crash Course Saturday March 23, 2019

crashcourse-470x260On Saturday, March 23, Pratt’s Brooklyn campus (200 Willoughby Avenue) will host the ninth annual Sustainability Crash Course. The Crash Course runs from 9am to 5pm with talks, workshops and a keynote discussion. Whether you are interested in policy, activism, art, history, or design, the Crash Course will have events of interest.

On Saturday, March 23, 2019, Pratt’s CSDS will host the 9th annual Sustainability Crash Course, a day-long series of presentations, panel discussions and workshops with a host of experts from Pratt’s faculty and elsewhere.  In years past we have had over 20 different speakers present topics including Ecology, Biomimicry, Packaging Design, Life-Cycle Assessment, Fashion, Architecture, Policy and Environmental Activism. This year we have an entirely new line up of exciting and inspiring presenters. As in the past, the event is free and open to the Pratt Community as well as the general public, but registration is requiredView the eventbrite page.

The Crash Course is a production of the Center for Sustainable Design Strategies, and this year will feature speakers from the Pratt community, New York City, upstate New York, and around the world. It begins Pratt’s annual Green Week activities, a detailed list of which are available from the Pratt Sustainability Coalition. For free registration and more information, please visit the Eventbrite page.

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Ashley Dawson “Energy Democracy and the Green New Deal” at Pratt, noon, March 21

 

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Ashley Dawson is an author, activist and professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center, and at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York.

I will have more to say about Pratt’s Green Week (scheduled to begin March 23 on the Brooklyn campus) in this space shortly. I want to first mention an event that serves as a preview of Green Week. We are proud to present CUNY Professor Ashley Dawson speaking on “Energy Democracy and the Green New Deal” on Thursday March 21 from noon to 1:30pm in ARC E-02 (200 Willoughby Avenue).

The future is electric. At least, it had better be if we are to survive as a species. We know that we must decarbonize societies the world over with all due haste in order to avoid climate catastrophe. The scale of this task is mammoth: contemporary energy systems must be switched to 100 percent renewable energy within the next decade or so. In addition, other key infrastructures such as transportation and the heating and cooling of buildings must be converted to running on electricity derived from renewable power. This means that we have to triple the current amount of energy being generated while also ditching fossil fuels. Although renewable power has experienced remarkable growth in recent years, this expansion has taken place in tandem with a massive expansion of fossil fuels. We are not, in other words, experiencing a transition of the scale and scope necessary to avert planetary ecocide. Feel-good bromides about a market-led transition to a green capitalist future will no longer do. We need an emergency plan for a rapid and massive transition, one grounded in ambitious ideas about how to heal the deep economic and social wounds inflicted by decades of neoliberal governance. This presentation will define energy democracy, explore the models for Green New Deal and just transition being advanced by the contemporary climate justice movement, and examine historical precedents for a democratic and equitable transformation of the energy system.

Professor Dawson currently works in the fields of environmental humanities and postcolonial ecocriticism. He is the author of two recent books relating to these fields: Extreme Cities (Verso, 2017) and Extinction (O/R, 2016). Extreme Cities argues that cities are ground zero for climate change, contributing the lion’s share of carbon to the atmosphere, while also lying on the frontlines of rising sea levels. Today, the majority of the world’s megacities are located in coastal zones, yet few of them are adequately prepared for the floods that will increasingly menace their shores. Instead, most continue to develop luxury waterfront condos for the elite and industrial facilities for corporations. These not only intensify carbon emissions, but also place coastal residents at greater risk when water levels rise. Extreme Cities offers an alarming portrait of the future of our cities, describing the efforts of Staten Island, New York, and Shishmareff, Alaska residents to relocate; Holland’s models for defending against the seas; and the development of New York City before and after Hurricane Sandy. Our best hope lies not with fortified sea walls, the book argues, but rather with urban movements already fighting to remake our cities in a more just and equitable way.

Extinction: A Radical History argues that the current devastation of the natural world, which affects not just large rhinos and pandas but humbler realms of creatures including beetles, bats and butterflies, is the product of a global attack on the commons, the great trove of air, water, plants and creatures, as well as collectively created cultural forms such as language, that have been regarded traditionally as the inheritance of humanity as a whole. This attack has its genesis in the need for capital to expand relentlessly into all spheres of life. Extinction, the book argues, cannot be understood in isolation from a critique of our economic system. To achieve this we need to transgress the boundaries between science, environmentalism and radical politics.

This event is free and open to the public.

The Art of Sustainability Symposium in Philadelphia October 6

MuralArtsImageThe Mural Arts Institute and the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University are hosting an Oct. 6 symposium on public art and sustainability featuring artists, architects, and me. Details, including tickets here:

Our speakers bring a variety of perspectives and experiences to the intersection of artistic practice and the environment. The line-up includes artist Stacy Levy, curator & scholar Patti Phillips; architect Mateo Fernández; Mural Arts Restored Spaces initiative founder Shari Hersh; the collective Basurama; community organizer Sulay Sosa; Wholistic.art; writer & scholar Carl Zimring; Bartram’s Garden Executive Director Maitreyi Roy; The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education Executive Director Mike Weilbacher; and policy expert Stephanie Gidigbi. Sessions will range from conversation to lecture format to interactive engagement and will cover a wide range of topics.

My contribution will be a lecture about the visual culture of environmental racism. I am looking forward to the entire program.

Sustainability Studies at Pratt: Fall 2018 Course Availability

Pratt_Willoughby_Main_GateMonday begins the new academic year at Pratt Institute, and a new schedule of courses. The spring ended with an all-time-high of sixty students registered in the minor, and we have an array of exciting courses this fall. Most sections are full, but seats are still available in a few. The following is a list of sections with available seats as of Friday afternoon, August 24.

SS201T The Sustainable Core. Our introductory course, featuring a variety of speakers giving students insight into the ways different disciplines approach sustainability on campus. This course satisfies the General Education Menu T (Ways of Thinking, Knowing, Doing) requirement. As of August 24, the Thursday morning section has ten seats available.

SSWI222G Making/Faking Nature. This course explores a wide range of philosophical conceptions of nature and examines how these theories have influenced the way we treat our environment, animals, and each other. We will consider, among other things, whether nature is dead, if there was ever such a thing as wilderness, whether we can restore or improve nature, and if so, who should have the power and authority to do so. Readings are selected from a variety of fields in the social sciences and cultural studies. As of August 24, the Friday morning section has one seat available.

MSCI 270 Ecology. This course provides a background in the fundamental principles of ecological science, including concepts of natural selection, population and community ecology, biodiversity, and sustainability. Students will acquire an “ecological literacy” about how the natural world works, and develop an understanding of how scientific methods are used to construct ecological knowledge. This course is required of all Sustainability Studies minors. As of August 24, the Wednesday morning section has six seats available, and the Wednesday afternoon section has six seats available.

MSWI 270C Ecology, Environment, and Anthropocene. Like any other organism, humans rely on their environment-most prominently the living part of that environment-in order to survive. But unlike any other species, humans have the ability to re-shape the diverse environments they inhabit in profound, fundamental, and potentially destructive ways. This course explores how living ecosystems function and how that functioning provides the resources required by both individual humans and the societies we form. This course may be used to fulfill the MSCI 270  requirement for Sustainability Studies minors and also satisfies the General Education writing intensive requirement. As of August 24, the Monday morning section has two seats available, and the Monday early afternoon section has one seat available.

MSCI 381 Green Building Science. This course will equip students with the basic technical knowledge they will need to assess the true sustainability of design and construction options in building design. Drawing on physics, engineering, chemistry, and environmental studies, students will learn how to understand the performance of a building from the perspectives of water use and waste disposal, heat flow and energy consumption, air flow and the indoor environment, fenestration and lighting requirements. By the conclusion of the course, students will have a clear understanding of how to advance in the field of sustainable building, including familiarity with carbon footprints, the US Green Building Council’s LEED program, and the Passive House standard. As of August 24, the Wednesday evening section has eight seats available.

IND 487 Sustainability and Production. This course explores issues of sustainability and social responsibility in product design with an emphasis on materials and supply chain flows. The importance of the designer’s role in understanding the environmental and social consequences of creating and producing products will be emphasized. Intended for the advanced undergraduate, studies on the impacts of production and consumption will be covered through readings, class discussions, and lecture materials. Students will be introduced to tools to assess the environmental impacts of products and services to create baseline models; their findings will be used to develop alternative concepts that reduce environmental impacts of products. As of August 24, the Wednesday afternoon section has fourteen seats available.

INT 481 Interior Option Lab: Environmental Quality. The Interior Options Lab provides the opportunity for hands on exploration in selected areas of interest. Projects will explore detail areas of Interior Design rather that full interior Environments. As of August 24, the Monday afternoon section has ten seats available. 

SUST 430 Planet Ocean. Ocean acidification. Exterminated fish. Bleached corals. This course travels to the planet’s last frontier-the ocean-to understand the root causes of its deterioration and to connect to its force and splendor. Students explore islands and waves, empires and economies, nightmares and fantasies among sailors, surfers, scientists and slaves. Our goal is to make visible the hidden but consequential practices unfolding at sea so that we think the “planet” beyond land-based perspectives. As of August 24, the Tuesday morning section has one seat available, and the Tuesday afternoon section has one seat available.

SUST 440 Environmental Economics. This course examines theories and methods of economics relevant for understanding the environment. It combines theoretical analyses and economic history to understand the social forces relevant to sustainability and climate change with discussions on specific environmental policies related to pollution, energy, climate change, and health issues. Specific topics addressed include externalities, property rights, economies of scale, competition and concentration, distribution, growth and development, and demographic shifts. Alternative policies will be addressed including regulation, cost-benefit analysis, population controls, fines and criminal penalties, the carbon tax, cap-and trade, green technologies, campaigns to change consumer behavior, and anti-poverty programs. As of August 24, the Monday morning section has four seats available.

SUST 445 Sustainable Technology. This course considers the microeconomics and macroeconomics of technological change and what determines which technologies become widely adopted. Specific sectors which will be examined include transportation, energy production, construction, and food production. Energy-saving and resource-saving technologies in other sectors will also be considered. The role of the public sector-both on a national and international level-will be addressed. As of August 24, the Monday afternoon section has six seats available.

Seat availability is likely to change quickly, so be sure to confirm registration if any of these classes particularly appeal to you.

Green Week at Pratt

Pratt_Willoughby_Main_GateIf it’s late March, that means it is time for Pratt Institute’s annual Green Week series of events. This year’s schedule kicks off with the Sustainability Crash Course this Saturday from 9-4:30pm. Admission is free, but registration is required. The schedule:

PRESENTATION SCHEDULE

9:00 – 9:15 am

Registration. Please sign in on the 1st Floor of the Engineering Building on Pratt’s Brooklyn Campus

9:15 – 10:00 am : Session 1

Session 1A: Sustainable Fashion is Personal: The Industry’s Impact on Workers, Communities and YOU

Alexandra P. McNair – Founder, Fashion FWD

Session 1B: Up Sh*t’s Creek: Creative Approaches to Organizing in Flushing, Queens

Cody Ann Herrmann – Artist and Grassroots Organizer

Session 1C: Green Roofs & Machu Picchu

Brent Porter – Adjunct Professor of the School of Architecture

10:00 – 10:10 am : Break

10:10 – 10:55 am : Session 2

Session 2A: Digital Storytelling: How To Create Authentic Content and Grow Your Business Online

Sam Dagirmanjian – Co-Founder of Storey Inc.

Session 2B: MAKING CONTACT… Music of the Plant

Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower – RN, Clinical Herbalist

Session 2C: Reimagining Waste

Josh Draper – Lecturer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Principal, PrePost

10:55 – 11:05 am : Break

11:05 – 11:50 am : Session 3

Session 3A: What you wear tells who you are. Speak well.

Althea Simons – Founder/designer/CEO of Grammar NYC

Session 3B: Climate Futures, Building Futures, City Futures – Getting New York City Ready for Tomorrow

Richard W. Leigh – PhD, PE, LEED AP, Visiting Professor of Physics at Pratt Institute

Session 3C: Biomimicry: Interior Design Strategies and Examples

Tetsu Ohara – Pratt Institute, Interior Design Department

11:50 am – 1:00 pm : Lunch Break

1:00 – 2:20 pm: Session 4

Session 4A: Weaving Culture and Sustainable Fashion

Melissa Eidson – Director & Producer

Manfred Lopez Grem – Cinematographer (Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca)

Dana Schlieman – Editor

Session 4B: What’s in my Water?

Kayla Fennelly – Project Coordinator NYPIRG

Session 4C: Citizen Enforcement Can Eliminate Vehicle Idiling

George Pakenham – Filmaker

2:20 – 2:30 pm : Break

2:30 – 3:15 pm : Session 5

Session 5A: Field notes: The Global Organic Textile Standard and Sustainability

Ely Battalen – Sustainability Consultant and Educator

Session 5B: Take Back the Tap

Jennifer E. Telesca – Assistant Professor of Environmental Justice in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute

Rebecca Welz – Adjunct Professor – CCE, Adjunct Professor – CCEFoundation Art, Industrial Design

Ira Stern – Chief of the Natural Resources Division for the NYCDEP Bureau of Water Supply

3:15 – 3:25 pm : Break

3:25 – 4:45 pm: Keynote Panel: THE TRUMP EFFECT: Women, Weapons & Weather

Brenna Cohen – NYC District Environmental Coordinator for Patagonia

Debera Johnson – Executive Director, Brooklyn Fashion +Design Accelerator

Susan Lerner – Executive Director for Common Cause NY

Mireia lopez – Creative Director and Founder of Milo Tricot

Nantasha Williams – Women’s March

The opening reception for Green Week will take place Tuesday at 12:30pm in Higgins Hall. We’ll have music, food, and beverages, and details about the several events taking place during the week.

I will speak as part of two Green Week events. On Thursday at 12:30 in ARC E-02, several faculty will present Pecha Kucha style presentations showcasing Environmental Awareness/Sustainability integration in their classes, and I will discuss field events in one or two SSCS-housed Sustainability seminars.

At the end of the week (March 30-31), Pratt’s Global South Center holds the Archipelagos and Aquapelagos conference in the Alumni Reading Room from 11am to 5pm. About two dozen scholars from all over the world will discuss the prominence of water in the shaping of contemporary cities. Several members of Pratt’s Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies will present; my own presentation will investigate several ways waste informs the past, present, and future of Newtown Creek.

Those are just a few of the events taking place this week; consult the full schedule at the Pratt Sustainability Coalition website.

This Week: Aluminum Upcycled at ASEH in Chicago

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The Chicago River may not be green by the start of the conference, but we will discuss green design strategies March 30.

The American Society for Environmental History meeting is in Chicago (the Drake Hotel, to be precise) this week, and I will discuss my new book Aluminum Upcycled in two sessions on Thursday. (The book will be available at the book exhibit and can also be purchased from Johns Hopkins University Press’s website.)

At 8:30am, Thursday March 30, I will be part of a panel on “Histories of Design and the Environment” with Kjetil Fallan, Rachel S. Gross, and Eun-Joo Ahn. We will all present individual papers, and then Steven Corey will comment and moderate.

Immediately thereafter at 10:30am, I will be part of a Critical Discard Studies and Environmental History roundtable organized by Martin Melosi. I will discuss aspects of the book in both sessions, with a focus on Herman Miller’s furniture design in the first and a broader discussion of where the book fits in the literature in the second.

Aluminum Upcycled Book Event in Brooklyn Saturday 1:30pm

zimringpostedI will discuss my book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective (available now) at Pratt’s Sustainability Crash Course in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon March 25 from 1:30-2:20pm. 

The Sustainability Crash Course runs from 9am to 5pm with a variety of talks and events at Pratt’s Brooklyn campus (200 Willoughby Avenue near the Clinton-Washington C station and the Classon G station). My book launch will be in Pratt’s Engineering Building at 1:30pm and last about 50 minutes. The event is free, but registration is required.

I will have copies of the book for sale ($30 cash or check, a discount from the $39.95 list price) at the event. Johns Hopkins University Press describes my history of sustainable design strategies this way:

Beginning in 1886 with the discovery of how to mass produce aluminum, the book examines the essential part the metal played in early aviation and the world wars, as well as the troubling expansion of aluminum as a material of mass disposal. Recognizing that scrap aluminum was as good as virgin material and much more affordable than newly engineered metal, designers in the postwar era used aluminum to manufacture highly prized artifacts. Zimring takes us on a tour of post-1940s design, examining the use of aluminum in cars, trucks, airplanes, furniture, and musical instruments from 1945 to 2015. 

By viewing upcycling through the lens of one material, Zimring deepens our understanding of the history of recycling in industrial society. He also provides a historical perspective on contemporary sustainable design practices. Along the way, he challenges common assumptions about upcycling’s merits and adds a new dimension to recycling as a form of environmental absolution for the waste-related sins of the modern world. Raising fascinating questions of consumption, environment, and desire,  Upcycling Aluminum is for anyone interested in industrial and environmental history, discard studies, engineering, product design, music history, or antiques.