Course Description and Objectives:
This class is designed to focus on how communities rebuild after disaster and to give students an opportunity to do real service in one specific community, Wilmington VT, which was devastated by Hurricane Irene on August 28th, 2011. In addition to discussions of disaster planning and response the course will also introduce students to urban planning and design within the context of the political, economic, social and environmental issues.
The focus of our reading will be on contemporary material that deals with sustainable planning and design and disaster planning, recuperation and rebuilding. In addition we will study how communities respond to and surmount disasters, support available from regional, state and the federal government, building community consensus, climate chaos and the likelihood of increasingly bizarre, unpredictable and dramatic weather events, climate adaptation and community resiliency, and negotiating systems to make positive change happen.
(Clare Linsdale-Riley shows a plan she is working on to member of the subcommittee on the historic village, February 9, 2012. Wilmington, VT)
Cross-disciplinary nature of the class and community work: Although the focus of this class is on one specific community and its response and recovery from one specific disaster, there are some larger overarching themes here that are the focus of much of the reading and in-class presentations. The entry point into our study of this area is urban planning, but we all need to be cognizant of dealing with complex social and cultural issues when we are at work in Wilmington. So the first interdisciplinary aspect of this class is sociological and political. In addition, by its nature urban design practice is cross-disciplinary. In order to be successful urban designers and thinkers must engage with the community on a series of levels, these levels include, but are not limited to, the social, economic, aesthetic and political. The hope of this class is that students will have an opportunity to learn about all these areas of community engagement at the same time that they understand the nature of their interconnectedness in one community. In addition, because most of the contemporary disasters that have caused the greatest amount of damage and destruction can be directly connected to Global Climate Change, the course will need to discuss both the scientific and political ramifications of climate change. Students will be encouraged to choose which disciplinary focus of the class they are most interested in working on. They may have the opportunity to have a placement that is directly related to their intellectual interest, although because of the nature of Wilmington’s resources, this is not guaranteed.
Requirements: Community engaged work and study requires two key things from you: FLEXIBILITY and DEPENDABILITY. Be prepared for things to change on this syllabus and in what happens in the community that we are working with. But you cannot miss class or your meetings with your placement, nor can you change the focus or substance of your project once it has been approved.