Sustainability Studio
Spring 2018

Directors: Joanne Lukitsh and Jane D. Marsching
Curatorial Director: Ryan Townsend, Art Ed MAT ’18
Contact: for more info

The spring curricular platform, Sustainability Studio, is a interdisciplinary, experimental, evolving, open laboratory for cross pollination and innovative development of sustainability research and projects. Six classes are being taught in the space.  Faculty are working to develop new ways of working across classes and curriculum. Watch this space for notices of lectures and class sessions open to the community.

This semester you will see a series of exhibitions, consisting of in progress experiments in art, design, and research from Sustainability Studio courses and from other sustainable projects going on throughout the campus this spring.


Course Descriptions  (pdf Sustainability Studio Courses18 version)

Utopic Worlds
Maura Smyth
Liberal Arts
Tuesdays 9:45am-12:45pm
What does an ideal society look like? How is it defined, and how do these definitions change from age to age, and depending on who is defining it? Has humanity, as Wilde suggests, already achieved it many times over—and, if so, what does it mean that we continually leave it behind? Is there ever—or is there always—a cost to obtaining an idealized world? Is it inevitable, as Max Beerbohn thinks, that good places inevitably become horrid ones, that utopia must shade into dystopia?
In this course, we will explore a variety of utopias, a word that translates to “no-place” (from the Greek ou “not” + topos “place”). We will together explore, across essays, novels, short stories, film, and tv, a variety of these “no-places”: utopias that are good (how we commonly think of utopias) and bad (which we often call dystopias), as well as the oft-blurry line between them. Some utopias are hopeful and confident in the ability of humanity to be better, while others are more ambiguous, offering alternatives to the way things are with a self-critical edge, an awareness that perfection can have a dark side. All are imagined places with a relationship to reality and to existing systems, and it is this fundamental attribute of utopias will provide our organizing rubric for the course. After exploring the origins of utopia and a few of its present-day iterations, we will encounter utopias that reject a given system entirely and imagine radical alternatives in its place; as well as ones that seek to change and better the system from within. We will delve into good places and bad places and places in between. As we do, you will consider—as students, artists, and citizens—utopic alternatives to the social, political, and economic systems that comprise our American society.


Sustainable Projects
Jane Marsching
Interdisciplinary elective SFDN 208-01
Tuesdays 2-5
Sustainable art and design focuses on how to leave our future more just, healthy, and environmentally stable than it is today. Through careful consideration of materials, life cycles, subjects, audiences, economies, and many other aspects of daily life, we imagine and make projects that address significant issues resulting from environmental impacts on human and animal societies.
Open to students from all departments, this course focuses on developing projects in an interdisciplinary studio setting that address issues of sustainability on our campus, in our city, and in the larger global context. Research practices, collaboration, and charrette forms are explored through a series of assignments including a civic engagement project. Through readings, field trips, visiting lecturers, and critique, we learn about revolutionary projects in sustainability in design and art fields today.
This class allows students to work in the medium of their choice while focusing on research and development in the area of sustainability.


Eating and the Environment
Jennifer Cole
Wednesday 9:45am -12:45pm
“Of all the things we humans do on, and to, Earth, agriculture has the single biggest impact. And of all the things you do to your body on a daily basis, eating also has the single biggest impact. Together we will investigate topics such as genetic modification of food, meat and dairy, additives, organic vs. local food, the farm bill, food subsidies, aquaculture, emerging infectious diseases, packaging and transportation, fast food, food and demographics, food safety, and nutritional supplements.”


Jennifer Carr
Wed 6:30-9:30-pm
Biomimicry is the study of the structure and function of biological systems as models for the design and engineering of materials. In this course, we will practice studying biological systems and solving problems by mimicking nature. Through this process, we will cover basic concepts in biology, physics and engineering.  In doing so we will see how science has affected diverse fields such as art, robotics, sculpture, architecture and photography.  Students will have the opportunity to discover scientific and environmental concepts in the world around them and incorporate these concepts into their artwork with the goal of demonstrating complex scientific or environmental problems through the lens of an artist.


TIME: Accumulate
Amber Tourlentes
SFDN 191
Thursdays 8-1

This course asks the questions: how and where is culture and how is community being produced and sustained. Through the lens of social and environmental justice how is cultural production, design and art making being reimagined?
The course will draw on your capacity to see and think both critically and sympathetically into durational/time-based thought modes. We will be screening projects by artist, designers who are working with sustainability; environmental and community based projects. We will study and create projects involving mapping/drawing, interventionist strategies, photography, sound, video, installation, web, and books.
What are some of the new forms of social and artistic capital such as intervening into systems of production and distribution, slow design, social networking and community work/skill share space/culture. We will view/discuss interdisciplinary projects from 1960’s to present, artists engaging–working with audience, community and reimagining; form, material, labor, function, resources, and sustainability.


 Surface Design on Fabric: Print
Jill Thibault
Fibers 3DFB226
Thursdays 1:30-6:30pm
An introduction to various methods of screen printing on fabric with dyes and pigments. Projects incorporate photographic and cut stencil techniques used in one of kind imagery and repeat pattern surfaces. Emphasis is on personal expression and technical experimentation.
**This semester the course will incorporate an experimental approach to thinking about zero waste and how questions of sustainability can inform approaches to printing on fabric.


TIME: State of Urgency
Stephanie Cardon
SFDN 191
Fridays 8-1
State of Urgency asks you to define what is most critically at stake for you, your communities, your generation. The urgency will carry over into our practice in this class, in which speed sometimes will be of the essence. Together, we will develop techniques and working processes that allow us to work fast (experimenting with project proposals and collaborative making, writing short form texts, editing 6 second videos, creating multiples.) Through our exploration of time-based media (sequential art, video, sound), and forms that range from the documentary to the hypothetical, we will consider questions of audience, message, medium and dissemination. We will look at a wide variety of works in the field of art, design, architecture that responds and calls attention to urgent needs. The content of this class will address questions of sustainability: the overlap of society, economy and environment.
This class will encourage a supportive, focused, oftentimes collaborative environment in which to explore critical issues that are meaningful for those in attendance. Reading, writing, field trips and group exercises will be required.


Sustainable Science
Kristian Demary
Liberal Arts LAMS-324-01
Fridays 1:45pm-4:45pm
What is the nature of sustainability? How can we learn from and with nature, its biological diversity and ecosystems, to become more resilient? Practical examples, field visits, readings, and discussions will give students the opportunity to learn about emerging interdisciplinary sciences and solution-driven technologies based on green chemistry and biomimicry. Through explorations of the water-energy-food nexus, adaptations to climate change, and sea level rise, students can explore how we can become self-sustainable in the era of Anthropocene. The intention of the course is to give students a greater understanding of how science can inform public policies. In addition, attention will be paid to how science relates to art and design making, and vice versa.


Information about the Sustainability Studio Spring 2017

Information about the Sustainability Incubator Spring 2016  and   More info about the Sustainability Incubator Spring 2016