The Dead

What do we do with the dead? Humans are the only species on earth to ritually prepare and intentionally place their dead, constructing graves, tombs, sepulchers, catacombs, ossuaries, crematoria, and columbaria, among other structures that mark our cities and landscapes. Hallowed ground, memorial, park, bird habitat, or contemplative refuge, the place of the dead has played many roles and continues to develop new ones. The ways that we commemorate and locate the dead are currently undergoing changes that reflect new attitudes to the environment, the increasingly pluralistic character of communities, and the diminishing availability of either the land necessary for burial or the resources that complete the funereal process. This seminar will examine the role of the dead in today\’s world and investigate the issues that face planners, landscape architects, and architects as they grapple with the question of what to do with the remains of a rapidly growing world population. Seminar will consist of a series of readings engaging historical and contemporary funereal practices and design responses, guest speakers, and local field trips. Students may choose to write a case or undertake a design proposal as their course project.