Climate Crisis—Beyond Adaptation & Resiliency: A Designer's Geoengineering Toolkit for Mitigation


  • Professor: Martha Schwartz
  • Term: Spring
  • Time: TBA
  • School: Graduate School of Design
  • Course ID: 207971

Currently, education of how landscape architects, architects and planners can address climate crisis (CC) impacts are focused on resilience (the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties) and adaptation (addresses impacts of CC). This seminar will explore mitigation, which goes to the root cause of CC, and what our role as professionals, in mitigating climate change can be.

Many people are aware of CC but have neither deep knowledge of how it is caused nor what they can do about it. This seminar will introduce students to the basics of CC, its complexities and effects. The seminar will then explore solutions which go to the source of the problem: anthropogenically induced greenhouse gas which has been put up into the atmosphere, thereby inducing global warming, the cause of most of the effects we will face in the near future. We address the immense issue of global equity and the "Global South", which is now experiencing the worst effects of CC, many countries that have less economic resource and were not causal to climate change. These are ethical issues that we, from the "Global North", must address.

In order to fully understand mitigation and its scope in climate change solutions, our seminar delves into the topic of geoengineering (GE), defined as "the deliberate large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth's climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming." The portfolio of GE tools ranges from biological solutions to physical and chemical solutions. Furthermore, there is a high probability that, as a global community, we will not make necessary changes or meet deadlines in time to avert the worse-case scenarios of climate impacts. Thus, we will also study Solar Radiation Management, which increases the Earth's albedo by reducing its temperature to create "breathing space", or time, while we transition to renewables, new practices and technologies that can stabilize the earthsystem and avoid climate catastrophe.

This is a weekly seminar focused upon required readings, instructor presentations and lectures from leading scientists in the climate community. Students will participate in lively and provocative conversations and debates, synthesize information, critique and evaluate arguments from texts by experts to create so to construct and formulate a personal position about CC and geoengineering solutions. Ultimately, students will shape their own "project" that will address the climate crisis.

By the end of the seminar, students will be able to engage the climate crisis discourse and, with a fuller understanding of solutions, can actively contribute to the challenges ahead.