Sustainable neighborhoods: experiential learning & Active Engagement in Detroit
ENVIRON 302, 004; UP 403, 001
Learn hands-on about sustainability issues facing Southeast Michigan through this four-credit, undergraduate course. As part of this unique, experiential course, students study out of Wayne State University in Detroit and learn about:
- The confluence of food systems, the built environment, transportation, and social justice in urban settings
- The concept and realities of sustainability in urban environments
- Ways communities and neighborhoods can respond to changing environments
- Detroit's history and culture
The concept of sustainability is complex. Not only does it include multiple environmental, social, and economic dimensions, but it also depends a great deal on the context and conditions of the sustainability issue being considered. The view of sustainability is further complicated when applied to a declining urban center like Detroit, where issues of social justice are intimately entwined with concerns for environmental quality and the quest for economic stability.
Interestingly, in Detroit and other declining rustbelt cities, hardships have opened new frontiers in what constitutes sustainable development. Cities like Detroit are in the process of redefining a different approach of how residents collaborate to create bottom-up solutions to resolve seemingly insurmountable problems.
As a result, the movement toward more sustainable neighborhoods in this context requires careful, in-depth assessment of the local culture, the economic conditions, and environmental realities at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. In the "Sustainable Neighborhoods" course, we will focus our attention on how issues of sustainability and social justice co-mingle around the topics of transportation systems, food systems, and the built environment.
The class, which is being taught by Larissa Larsen, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, is primarily located at the U-M Center in Detroit but also includes interactions with community activists, NGOs and government officials, and community members (via hands-on neighborhood projects).
This "Sustainable Neighborhoods" course, co-sponsored by the Graham Institute, is being offered through both the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning and Program in the Environment. The class also includse some collaboration with the Residential College's Semester in Detroit (LS&A). The course numbers are ENVIRON 302, 004 and UP 403, 001.