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The Interdisciplinary World General Education as a Basis for Career and Service Herb Childress Boston Architectural College.

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Presentation on theme: "The Interdisciplinary World General Education as a Basis for Career and Service Herb Childress Boston Architectural College."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Interdisciplinary World General Education as a Basis for Career and Service Herb Childress Boston Architectural College

2 Citizenship The condition of voluntarily taking responsibility for, and action on behalf of, a community to which you belong.

3 Here’s a problem… Average atmospheric temperature rise 5 to 8°F Average atmospheric temperature rise 5 to 8°F Sea levels rising 12” to 30” Sea levels rising 12” to 30” River systems salinated further upstream River systems salinated further upstream Ocean storms more severe and more expansive Ocean storms more severe and more expansive Interior deserts drier and larger Interior deserts drier and larger

4 How are we going to design for a billion climate refugees?

5 Here’s a problem… Every year, the building I work in consumes: 7,500,000,000 BTU source energy (3 rail cars of coal) 7,500,000,000 BTU source energy (3 rail cars of coal) 1,100,000 gallons of water 1,100,000 gallons of water 3,000 lbs of mail 3,000 lbs of mail 100,000 square feet of cardboard 100,000 square feet of cardboard 70 computers 70 computers 1,500 pizzas 1,500 pizzas

6 What are we going to do with all that waste? From ONE BUILDING?

7 Here’s a problem… That building is obsolete. Replacing it would provide 60+% energy savings 60+% energy savings $8M in construction wages $8M in construction wages BUT it would consume 9,000 CY concrete (maybe Massachusetts, maybe Korea) 9,000 CY concrete (maybe Massachusetts, maybe Korea) 15 miles of copper wire (mined in Chile) 15 miles of copper wire (mined in Chile) 1,400 tons of rebar (from China or Russia) 1,400 tons of rebar (from China or Russia) mining, finishing, shipping, labor, health, human rights…

8 How should we think about sustainable design when we don’t understand the inputs?

9 Problem 1 – Climate Refugees Problem 2 – Waste Management Problem 3 – Inputs to Sustainable Design These are not merely complicated problems…

10 Wicked Problems Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them. ▪ Laurence Peter

11 Wicked Problems DEFINITIONAL CHARACTERISTICS: Can’t be fully defined, or even described Can be stated as symptoms of other problems Diagnosis depends on the definition Changes while we wait

12 Wicked Problems OPERATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS: No fixed body of operations or actions Each iteration is unique, limits knowledge carryover Can’t be solved by subdivision into parts No meaningful way to practice

13 Wicked Problems OUTCOME CHARACTERISTICS: No right answers, though some are better No immediate or ultimate test of solutions No stopping rule

14 Wicked Problems ETHICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Has to be solved by those who made it Harm is done while we wait Inaction is a choice among actions We have no right to be wrong

15 Here’s a problem… American suburbs were built for 1950s conditions: Cheap fuel and cheap cars An army of stay-at-home mothers Huge government investment in infrastructure Huge government housing subsidies Development policies that devoured farm and wild lands Those conditions no longer exist.

16 Can we intensify existing suburban forms? How do you “infill” wide roads, acres of parking, and vast (and expedient) single-story buildings?

17 Here’s a problem… CityPeak population 2010 population Change Detroit1,849,600713, % Saginaw98,30055, % Flint196,000111, % Youngstown168,30072, % Toledo383,800316, % Gary178,30080, % These cities have smaller and poorer populations, which means their tax bases are shot… but the same amount of roads to pave and plow, sewers and water mains to maintain, land area to protect with police and fire service.

18 Can we physically shrink an existing city? Or evacuate it altogether?

19 Here’s a problem… At any given moment, about 3,500,000 Americans are homeless, temporarily or permanently. In 2011, 7,500,000 American houses and 2,000,000 commercial buildings were vacant or abandoned.

20 Is squatting a civil right?

21 Research questions can live within a discipline. The problems of the world do not.

22 Three Components to Every Career Content Knowledge School is very good at this; it’s the focus of almost every classroom.

23 Three Components to Every Career Content Knowledge Logistical Knowledge School is not so good at this; it’s rarely part of learning settings.

24 Three Components to Every Career Content Knowledge Logistical Knowledge Strategy & Purpose We’re not very good at this at all. We assume people know why they want what they want

25 Three Components to Every Career Content Knowledge Logistical Knowledge Strategy & Purpose The Major Liberal Education The Internship

26 Wicked Learning Purpose ContentLogistic Provisional Definitions Interdisciplinary Urgency and Immediacy Solution Must Be Invented, not Carried Over Work Must Be Collaborative, Not Division of Labor Work Must Include Those Affected, Not Just “Experts” Requires Ongoing Engagement, not “Solve and Walk Away”

27 Leadership The characteristic of naming oneself as implicated and responsible for resolving a problem, even while knowing our own incapacity and unworthiness

28 Where Do Leaders Come From? Manipulative self-interest How can I frame this problem in a way that makes it clear that I should be given power or money to solve it?

29 Where Do Leaders Come From? Manipulative self-interest Humility and reluctance Well, nobody else is doing anything, and it’s not going to fix itself… I guess I’d better get started.

30 Where Do Leaders Come From? Manipulative self-interest Humility and reluctance Recruitment & appointment You know who’d be GREAT to help us out with this…

31 Where Do Leaders Come From? Manipulative self-interest Humility and reluctance Recruitment & appointment In all cases, leadership is being prepared to say “yes” when an opportunity arises.

32 Preparing for Serendipity? How can we prepare our students to be prepared to say “yes” to a broader array of diverse problems?

33 Preparing for Serendipity? If we can help our students understand how to approach wicked problems, they can do anything, in any field! Wickedness!

34 How NOT to Prepare for Wickedness Year One: General Ed Year Two: General Ed Year Three: Major Year Four: Major Summer Internship

35 How to Prepare for Wickedness Little problem We give them some small dilemma, and offer different ways of looking at, thinking about, and acting upon it. Low stakes, but still real Relatively low complexity Possibly approached individually

36 How to Prepare for Wickedness Bigger problem More ways of looking at, thinking about, and acting upon it. Higher stakes, social need Increased complexity Larger teams

37 How to Prepare for Wickedness Ginormous Problem! The kinds of problems that we exercise our own professional judgment upon The nature of the intervention demands the tools

38 Sandlot Baseball as “just-in-time learning” They may be terrible, but at least they’re playing the game. They may even learn to love it.

39 The Rigidity of Disciplines To a man with a hammer…

40 Our Fields as we Teach Them

41 Our Fields as we Experience Them

42 Wicked Problems Require Fluidity Don’t go into this fight with only one way of thinking! Don’t just follow procedure. Do what you have to do!

43 2.2a. Baccalaureate programs engage students in an integrated course of study of sufficient breadth and depth to prepare them for work, citizenship, and life-long learning. These programs ensure the development of core competencies including, but not limited to, written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, and critical thinking. In addition, baccalaureate programs actively foster creativity, innovation, an appreciation for diversity, ethical and civic responsibility, civic engagement, and the ability to work with others. Baccalaureate programs also ensure breadth for all students in cultural and aesthetic, social and political, and scientific and technical knowledge expected of educated persons. Undergraduate degrees include significant in-depth study in a given area of knowledge (typically described in terms of a program or major).

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49 Research questions can live within a discipline. The problems of the world do not.

50 Women marginalized, minimized, held back

51 Legal studies Social Sciences Business Literature Theology Architecture History Political Science

52 Women’s Studies The First Wicked Major!

53 More possibilities Environmental Justice

54 More possibilities Sustainable Foodways

55 More possibilities Industrial Renewal

56 More possibilities Prediction Studies

57 More possibilities Micro- Enterprise Studies

58 In all of these cases and others, the role of General Education is not to stand apart, to offer “breadth” without application. General Education offers us wickedness — the ability to see problems in their full complexity, and to imagine a greater array of solutions.


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