Topic outline

  • General

    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.


    Rethinking the Introductory Art History Survey: A Practical, Somewhat Theoretical, and Inspirational Guide

    Community work. In addition to weekly two hour in-class sessions that will take place in either the Monday or the Thursday slot of this class students will be required to spend 2 to 3 hours per week in Wilmington working with community members either in specific placements or on specific projects as developed and designed in collaboration with community members specifically designed to support Irene recovery efforts. Transportation to the town will be provided on Monday and Thursdays during class time. We can also assist in transportation to town if your work takes you there on days other than Monday and Thursday. In addition, as opportunities arise the class may participate in weekend recovery efforts.

    Attendance and informed participation in class will constitute 25% of your final grade.


    Resource notebook. Every student should get him- or herself a blank notebook of whatever size shape and design you feel most comfortable with. Note: This can be a binder that you fill with things, typed notes, photographs, or other “found” material.

    Your notebook should be used as your resource bank for all and any information that is helpful or necessary for your work in the class. It can and should contain personal reflections, key notes of ideas or things you come across, contact information for people you have met, things you’ve heard, creative responses, or any other thing that you need. We will talk about modes of creative journaling in the first day of class.

    This notebook will be handed in every Thursday and returned to students the next day.

    This notebook will account for 20% of your final grade. But a whole lot more for you as your memento of this class and what you accomplished!


    Online reflections. Topics for these online reflections are listed in the “Write” section of each week’s assignment. Specific days when these are due are specified in the weekly schedule. Please note, on some weeks there are two of these due. On others, none. These reflections will be due every Sunday, to be posted by 2pm to give everyone in class time to both read and reflect upon everyone’s posting.  

    They should also be places where you work through issues that are going on with your project. These reflections will account for 25% of your final grade.


    Project. Your research/engagement project will be done in sections. The first section will be completed by February 9, the second section will be due on March 8 and the Final presentation and paper will be due May 7. Remember: This project will be given to the Wilmington community. The project will constitute 30% of your final grade

    Part 1. The first part of your project will be a 2 to 4 page review of the impact of Irene on Wilmington with a focus on the area of recovery that you are particularly interested in and that you will be working on in your service time. For example, if you are interested in mitigation this section of your work should define hazard mitigation, discuss plans for its management on a general level and specifically in Wilmington and give a brief review of resources available to study it. The last page of this review will be an outline of your proposed project. This section should include a reflection on what you have seen and done up to this point and take into consideration the self appraisal that you have been working on in the weekly online reflections. This should include a timeframe for deliverables.

    Part 2. The second part of your project will be 4 to 8 pages and should contain specific information on your project, lay out the sources you are using, including both literature and the individuals you are working with, an update of your timeframe, thoughtful descriptions of the particular issues you are dealing with fitting them into the broader picture of disaster and urban planning that we have been working with in class.

    Part 3. This will be done in two parts, a community presentation and a written product or website.