Climate change disproportionately affects the people and places with the least power and resources. As our sea levels have risen, so too has the extreme socioeconomic disparity of specific communities and countries, creating a drowning class of climate refugees. Entire countries on the front lines of sea-level rise face the specter of nationhood without territory, despite the undeniable fact that their contribution to this global problem is negligible. And if climate change is in fact “the result of human activity since the mid-20th century,” it is in actuality a largely male-made phenomenon, if we unpack the gender dynamics and underlying power structures of the proto-G8 nations, the self-proclaimed leaders of industrialization. These power dynamics become even further exacerbated as we consider the implications of the particularly American interest in doubling down on investing in the heaviest piece of infrastructure ever—climate engineering. The architectural community appears to be in agreement. Climate change is a fundamental design problem. And yet calls to action have been ineffectual, responses underwhelming in the face of this overwhelming challenge. As the architectural community is eagerly poised to jump on the design bandwagon, this course seeks to reveal, foreground, empower, and give physical form to the spatial dimensions and power dynamics of the people and places most impacted by climate change. More broadly, the course aspires to help students develop their own critical stance on climate change and the role architects play.

All Semesters

1248a
Fall 2021
Cartographies of Climate Change
Joyce Hsiang