MASTER OF ARTS IN SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
Please see the course information and related documents below for an overview of this incredible program.
For more on the program, be sure to check out the MCAD Sustainable Design Blog.
The graduate sustainability thesis is “a student-directed, independent, sustainability-focused project in the field that pertains to the specific personal and professional aspirations of the student with the support of their thesis advisor and thesis committee. Theses may be the development of a sustainability-focused product, material, system, service, comprehensive research paper, or detailed business plan.” The project was inspired by the numerous client-centered construction projects I have had the pleasure to work on in my career, and the endless pursuit of beauty and craft of many talented artists, managers and tradespeople. My thesis committee consisted of passionate and talented engineers, architects and educators Curt McNamara, Denise DeLuca, Randall Anway and Tim McGee.
This applied creativity course taught students how to evaluate personal practice, innovation techniques, and implementation plans through a combination of reflections and focused exercises. Each week, students learned a new technique for idea generation and one technique for sustainable innovation. The course allowed for multiple approaches to specific design situations, focusing on the design customer and implementation of ideas. My work focused on client decisions, schedules, and collaboration as support for my thesis.
In Biomimetic Design, students learned how to abstract functional strategies from nature and apply them to real-world problems and topics. This project-oriented studio course covered core biological principles and case studies which helped design an engineered food to cure world hunger covered in this individual project here. The final group project was an entry into the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge for ERIA, a real-time earth decay model. For a video overview of ERIA, please click here. In addition to these projects, I also authored a Biomimicry article on Reverse Engineering.
Students were introduced to holistic approaches to sustainability including sustainability frameworks, principles, materials assessments, and research tools to apply to sustainable design. The final project for this course summarized these approaches as they applied to the built environment. I began by comparing LEED and the Living Building Challenge, trans-materialized a KarmaKredit system, and looked at applying the Living Building Challenge to high-end residential projects.
As a response to the transition from the age of design for the part to the age of design for the whole, this course provided students with the tools required to understand systems thinking, languages of design, and product life cycles through the integration and formation of innovative products and services. The final project was a result of several explorations in boundaries, connections, and interstices. Another exercise explored and evaluated a sustainability meme.
This course was a design-thinking approach to business from a designer’s perspective. One major assignment explored biophilic indoor-outdoor spaces called “WilderNests” with a business canvas model, while the final project resulted in a business plan for a design-build consultancy.
This professional practicum provided an opportunity to gain practical experience in sustainable design and innovation. This practicum was arranged by myself, a faculty member, and another graduate student. The goal was to collaborate on a living wall system. 120 hours were required, and over 150 hours were spent in collaboration and on independent work. See the attached PDF for an overview of the project, a journal of our working sessions, and an independent final project.
“How do we actively design to create truly sustainable results?” In this course, students tried to answer this question and apply leading practice methods for sustainable and regenerative design solutions. This course explored theoretical frameworks, green standards, and best practices used by sustainable designers, thinkers, and architects. Through studio projects and exercises, we learned to integrate the theory of sustainable design frameworks into our practices. My work explored systems thinking, the life-cycle analysis of people, and how these relate to one another. It culminated in this final project that explored patterns for biophilic design.
This course addressed economic, environmental, and ethical crises in sustainable design by exposing students to tools of research, self-reflection and collaboration to better prepare them to be effective and agile leaders. A variety of approaches were introduced and explored with a focus on creative, innovative, and humane solutions. The final project for this course included a map of my own personal sustainability journey and a summary reflections from each week of class. For all of my weekly reflections, please visit the BCI Blog.