Activism and Social Change by Design

Activism and Social Change by Design” is the title of Craig Wilkin’s course offering this Spring. As with his ongoing preoccupations and past academic teaching, this class too promises to discuss the instrumentality of spatial practice in effecting constructive social change. Here’s the course description for those interested in exploring the role and meaning of social agency in design practice.

Activism and Social Change by Design – Craig Wilkins
¼ lecture, ¼ discussion, ½ making a difference

This course examines the history, theory, and mechanisms through which architects, planners, and other socially-conscious activists put their professional skills in service to an idea of social change with an eye towards doing something similar in Detroit. The resurgence in socially-conscious design is due in large part to groups of students and practitioners who are inspired by the widening gap between the haves and the have nots; some in the field have leaped back into the arena of problem-solvers with great enthusiasm. Empowering people to take direct control over their environmental development, the resulting work has been both impressive and promising.

The course examines a series of interventions, strategies, theories, and works that impact people in perhaps modest ways that hold potential for significant social change over the long haul with an eye towards both advocacy planning and design activism. To establish a groundwork for discussion, the course introduces theories of social change that inform much of this work. In weekly readings that address both design and the urban environment, the class will be invited to reflect on how the articulation of space shapes and reflects political and social subjectivities.

This course will also have a design/build component. Students will have the opportunity to engage what they have been studying, as the class will collaboratively design and build a social intervention in Midtown Detroit. Students do not have to be in architecture, planning or design major to take part in this course. They should, however, have the desire to spend time making the environment, and specifically the City of Detroit, a better place to live.”


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