Climate by Design

Through a series of case studies, this course will explore paradigmatic design responses to the climate crisis including adaptation (both for communities to remain and retreat) and mitigation (through increased carbon draw-down and reduced emissions). These exemplary cases will be a means to understand and articulate the evolving role of landscape architecture and related disciplines in designing for an increasingly vulnerable planet. As such, the course will explore not only how landscape architecture responds to the climate crisis, but what these actions say about the nature of design itself. The cases will be situated in different geographical contexts and the responses will be understood relative to advances in climate science as well as the variations in social, environmental, economic and political context. 

There will be a series of lectures by GSD faculty and external experts across fields (science, policy, economics, humanities, design). Students will develop and analyze a case study, developing methodologies for critical assessment and visual representation. The studies will consider social, cultural and aesthetic dimensions as well as environmental function, economic deployment and political engagement. 

Climate by design is a required course for the MLA degree candidates (class of 2022) and open to other GSD and Harvard students with an interest in the climate crisis and design.

In Fall 2020, the course will meet two times per week for synchronous workshops, presentations and conversations with the class cohort, teaching faculty and invited guests. These synchronous sessions will be supported by additional asynchronous lectures, interviews, readings, and dossiers on the key case study projects.